Asian Shares Move into Negative Territory as Coronavirus Death Toll Rises

Asian shares erased earlier gains Wednesday, waving into negative territory as a hike in new Chinese virus cases sent Hong Kong shares plunging and stoked fears about the economic impact of the epidemic.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.52%. Hong Kong shares fell 2.8% on their first session after two-and-a-half trading daybreak for Lunar New Year, headed by declines in financial services, real estate, and consumer goods firms.

However, Australian shares surged 0.57%, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index grew 0.4%, partly as investors in these markets have already had an opportunity to react to the virus epidemic, which has compromised over 100 lives.

Oil futures built on gains in Asia after OPEC sources stated the cartel wants to increase crude output cuts by three months to June, easing concern about a supply glut.

U.S. Treasury yields remained higher, and safe-haven currencies held steady in a sign of some calm in financial markets; however, the focus remained fairly on the novel coronavirus and how investors would re-price riskier assets.

U.S. stock futures climbed 0.14% in Asia Wednesday. The S&P 500 soared 1.01% Tuesday, recovering from its worst daily drop in four months Monday, as Apple’s shares hiked ahead of its fourth-quarter outcomes.

After the market close, Apple reported better-than-anticipated earnings for the fourth quarter and forecast income in the current quarter above Wall Street expectations, which boosted some Asian tech stocks.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes soared to 1.6666% against a yield of 1.5821% on three-month Treasury bills in another sign that feeling has stabilized.