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.
fell 2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index
dropped 1.7%. South Korea’s Kospi
slid 1.5%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan
declined. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200
dipped 0.5%. Markets in mainland China remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Semiconductor-equipment maker Advantest
sank in Tokyo trading, along with Casio
. Apple component makers AAC
and Sunny Optical
fell in Hong Kong, where Sands China
and Wharf Real Estate
dropped as well. Samsung
ropped in South Korea after posting a nearly 40% drop in quarterly net profit. Apple manufacturer Foxconn
plunged in Taiwan, while Beach Energy
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
rose 11.60 points, or 0.4%, to end at 28,734.45, while the S&P 500 index
slipped 2.84 points, or 0.1%, to 3,273.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index
advanced 5.48 points, or 0.1%, to finish at 9,275.16.
Benchmark crude oil
fell 55 cents to $52.80 a barrel. Brent crude oil
, the international standard, fell 59 cents to $59.22.
slipped to 108.88 Japanese yen from 109.21 yen on Wednesday.