Stocks in Asia Pacific fell on Thursday as fears over the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

Major markets in the region fell deep into negative territory, with South Korea’s Kospi leading losses as it dropped 8.39% to close at 1,457.64 while the Kosdaq index fell 11.71% to end its trading day at 428.35. The Korea Exchange said earlier during the session that circuit breakers were triggered after the Kospi dropped 8%, with trading halted for 20 mins, according to Reuters.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 2.27% by the afternoon, as of its final hour of trading.

In the Philippines, where trading was halted earlier this week, the PSE Composite Index plummeted 13.34% to close at 4,623.42 as it resumed on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the Jakarta Composite Index traded 5.44% lower in the afternoon. The Indonesia Stock Exchange had earlier announced a temporary halt in trading after the Jakarta Composite Index fell 5%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was closed 3.44% lower at 4,782.90 after earlier jumping more than 2%. Jobs data released Thursday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February at 5.1%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed on the day as the Shanghai composite declined 0.98% to about 2,702.13 while the Shenzhen composite rose 0.279% to approximately 1,682.93.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan slid 1.04% to close at 16,552.83, with index heavyweight and conglomerate Softbank Group plummeting 17.22% ⁠— its biggest one day fall, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the Topix index added 0.97% to close at 1,283.22.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index fell 4.3%.

“What’s really putting pressure on the equity markets at the moment is actually the liquidity from the credit markets,” Sean Taylor, chief investment officer for Asia-Pacific at DWS, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Thursday.

Taylor said investors should be “very cautious” and keep “very liquid” in the meantime.

TICKER COMPANY NAME PRICE CHANGE %CHANGE
NIKKEI Nikkei 225 Index NIKKEI 16552.83 -173.72 -1.04
HSI Hang Seng Index HSI 22413.62 704.49 3.25
ASX 200 S&P/ASX 200 ASX 200 4961.10 178.20 3.73
SHANGHAI Shanghai SHANGHAI 2725.87 23.74 0.88
KOSPI KOSPI Index KOSPI 1521.08 63.44 4.35
CNBC 100 CNBC 100 ASIA IDX CNBC 100 6705.18 153.82 2.35

Developments surrounding the global coronavirus outbreak continued to be watched on Thursday.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced Thursday a “comprehensive package,” including a reduction in the cash rate target to 0.25%, to support the country’s economy as it grapples with the impact of the virus.

“At some point, the virus will be contained and the Australian economy will recover,” RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in a statement. “In the interim, a priority for the Reserve Bank is to support jobs, incomes and businesses, so that when the health crisis recedes, the country is well placed to recover strongly.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve invoked its emergency authority on Wednesday to create a backstop for prime money market mutual funds. The new Money Market Mutual Liquidity Fund will provide loans to financial institutions to buy assets from prime money market funds.

Stocks in the region had earlier gotten a boost after the European Central Bank announced Wednesday a new Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme that will use €750 billion (approx. $821 billion) to purchase securities to help support the European economy.

“The ECB will ensure that all sectors of the economy can benefit from supportive financing conditions that enable them to absorb this shock,” the central bank said in a release. “This applies equally to families, firms, banks and governments. The Governing Council will do everything necessary within its mandate.”

So far, at least 207,860 have been infected while at least 8,657 lives have been taken by the disease globally, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,338.46 points to close at 19,898.92. That was the index’s first close below 20,000 since February 2017. The S&P 500 fell 5.2% to 2,398.10 and ended its trading day nearly 30% below a record set last month. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.7% to close at 6,989.84.

Oil price bounce

Oil prices bounced after losses on Wednesday. In the afternoon of Asian trading hours on Thursday, International benchmark Brent crude futures were 6.23% higher at $26.43 per barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures added 13.01% to $23.02 per barrel.

The moves came after oil prices plunged to their third worst day on record on Wednesday. U.S. crude fell 24.4% to settle at $20.37 per barrel, its lowest level since Feb. 2002. Brent dropped 14.1% to $24.67, its lowest level since 2003.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 100.899 after rising from levels below 100 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.73 per dollar after seeing levels below 106 earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.572 after declining from levels above $0.6 earlier in the week.

SOURCE : https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/19/asia-markets-coronavirus-stimulus-measures-currencies-in-focus.html