Asian markets fell in early trading Thursday, after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged, and as investors weighed developments in the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Fed chief Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the U.S. economy is in good shape, in announcing that the central bank left unchanged a key interest rate that influences borrowing costs. But he also said the Fed is closely monitoring the severity of the deadly coronavirus and the potential for the illness to disrupt the global economy.

Chinese authorities on Thursday said more than 7,700 people have fallen victim to the virus, with at least 170 dead. World Health Organization officials expressed “great concern” of the virus’ spread outside of China. A U.N. panel is expected to meet Thursday to weigh if the outbreak should be declared a global emergency, the Associated Press reported.

Japan’s Nikkei

NIK, -1.86%

  fell 2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index

HSI, -1.72%

  dropped 1.7%. South Korea’s Kospi

180721, -1.45%

  slid 1.5%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan

Y9999, -5.29%

 , Singapore

STI, -0.56%

 , Indonesia

JAKIDX, -0.37%

  and Malaysia

FBMKLCI, -0.19%

  declined. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

XJO, -0.44%

  dipped 0.5%. Markets in mainland China remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Semiconductor-equipment maker Advantest

6857, -5.61%

  sank in Tokyo trading, along with Casio

6952, -5.58%

  and Canon

7751, -4.71%

 . Apple component makers AAC

2018, -6.59%

  and Sunny Optical

2382, -6.28%

  fell in Hong Kong, where Sands China

1928, -4.23%

  and Wharf Real Estate

1997, -3.76%

  dropped as well. Samsung

005930, -2.88%

 ropped in South Korea after posting a nearly 40% drop in quarterly net profit. Apple manufacturer Foxconn

2354, -8.80%

  plunged in Taiwan, while Beach Energy

BPT, +3.14%

 surged in Australia.

“It’s going to be challenging to put concerns over the coronavirus to one side, but fortunately for risk, the robust data in the U.S. should at least be able to keep risk a wobbly but even keel,” wrote Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

U.S. stocks were little changed Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.04%

  rose 11.60 points, or 0.4%, to end at 28,734.45, while the S&P 500 index

SPX, -0.09%

  slipped 2.84 points, or 0.1%, to 3,273.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index

COMP, +0.06%

  advanced 5.48 points, or 0.1%, to finish at 9,275.16.

Benchmark crude oil

CLH20, -1.07%

  fell 55 cents to $52.80 a barrel. Brent crude oil

BRNH20, -1.09%

  , the international standard, fell 59 cents to $59.22.

The dollar

USDJPY, -0.11%

  slipped to 108.88 Japanese yen from 109.21 yen on Wednesday.

Source link

2020-01-29