Chinese Stocks Slip Amid New Virus Cases

Stocks in major Asian markets declined on Thursday as investors weighed a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases reported in China’s Hubei province due to a tweak in methodology.

The Nikkei 225 index fell 33.48 points, or 0.1%, to 23,827.73, Shares of conglomerate Softbank Group declined after Wednesday’s blockbuster surge, falling 5.1% on the day, with the moves on Thursday coming after the firm posted a near wipe out of its quarterly profit.

The Japanese yen, often seen as a safe-haven currency in times of economic uncertainty, traded at 109.79 per U.S. dollar following an earlier low of 110.09.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index retreated 93.66 points, or 0.3%, to 27,730.

On the corporate earnings front, firms such as Japan’s Nissan Motors and Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba were expected to announce their quarterly financial results on Thursday. Ahead of those releases, Nissan’s stock in Japan was down 1.5% by the close while Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba were up more than 0.6% as of their final hour of trading.

Singapore’s DBS on Thursday morning announced a 14% jump in its net profit for the fourth quarter as compared to a year ago. Shares of the lender were up 0.16% in afternoon trade.

Korean markets listed lower, as shares of automaker Hyundai Motor dropped 2.2%.

Australian stock markets progressed, contrary to the trend. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6716 after touching an earlier high of $0.6738.

CHINA

The CSI 300 dropped 24.51 points, or 0.6%, to 3,959.92.

China’s Hubei province on Thursday reported a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases. It said it started to include "clinically diagnosed" cases in its tally.

Market sentiment had been been positive earlier in the week as the data had been showing an apparent slowdown in the pace of new reported cases, with policymakers in China having announced a series of measures to combat the expected economic slowdown from the virus outbreak.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex bucked the trend and gained 17.59 points, or 0.2%, to 11,791.78

In Korea, the Kospi index subtracted 5.42 points, or 0.2%, to 2,232.96

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index moved lower 3.28 points, or 0.1%, to 3,220.09

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 lopped off 17.4 points, or 0.2%, to 11,880.84

In Australia, the ASX 200 picked up 15.03 points, or 0.2%, to 7,103.23