Coronavirus fears wipe $400 BILLION off the value of China’s stocks in first trading session since extended Lunar New Year break
- Markets plunged by nearly nine per cent in their first session since January 23
- Hundreds of companies’ stocks fell by the Chinese daily limit of 10 per cent
- China’s central bank injected $173.8billion today in a bid to head off the panic
Fears over coronavirus wiped more than $400billion off Chinese stocks today in the first trading session since the Lunar New Year break.
Markets plunged by nearly nine per cent in their first session since January 23, since when the outbreak has spiralled into a global crisis which has killed 361 people.
Chinese stocks can only fall by 10 per cent on one day and hundreds of companies hit that limit on Monday.
Shanghai stocks ended down 7.72 per cent, their biggest drop in five years.
Travel and tourism shares also plummeted after a series of governments and airlines imposed drastic restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.
China’s central bank has already injected 1.2 trillion yuan ($173.8billion) of liquidity in the markets in a bid to head off the panic.
Fears over coronavirus wiped more than $400billion off Chinese stocks today in the first trading session since January 23 (pictured: an investor monitors stock prices in Beijing)
The Lunar New Year holiday was originally scheduled to end last Friday but was extended by three days to give authorities more time to deal with the crisis.
Workers in Hubei province – where the virus epicentre of Wuhan is located – are not scheduled to return to their jobs until after February 13.
The death toll was only 17 when Chinese markets last traded on January 23, but has now risen to 361 including the first death outside China.
Today the Shanghai Composite index shed nearly eight per cent of its value to hit a one-year low, according to Reuters calculations.
The yuan began trade onshore at its weakest level this year, while iron, oil and copper traded in Shanghai all dropped by their daily limits.
Beijing says it will help firms that produce vital goods resume work as soon as possible, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
The number of deaths in China has now passed the total Chinese toll from the 2002-03 SARS outbreak, another virus that emerged from China and killed almost 800 people around the world.
Wuhan and other cities remain in virtual lockdown with travel severely restricted, and China is facing mounting international isolation due to restrictions on flights.
The World Health Organization last week declared the outbreak a public health emergency.
A hospital built in just eight days to treat people with the virus in Wuhan will begin to take patients on Monday, state media said.
The hospital called Huoshenshan, or ‘fire-god mountain’, will have 1,000 beds.
More than 7,500 workers took part in the project, launched on January 25 and finished this weekend.
A customer wearing a face mask talks with a clerk through the doors of a stock brokerage in Beijing today
China is building a second hospital in Wuhan with 1,600 beds. Leishenshan, or ‘thunder-god mountain’, is scheduled to be completed on February 5.
While countries have been trying to block the virus with travel bans, they have also been trying to get their stranded citizens out of locked-down Wuhan.
The United States, which flew people out last week, planned ‘a handful more flights’, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Russia would start evacuating its citizens from Wuhan on Monday and it has also suspended direct passenger trains links with China.
Australia evacuated 243 people, many of them children, from Wuhan on Monday and will quarantine them on a remote island in the Indian Ocean off its northwest coast.
The country has also followed the United States in barring entry to all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China.
The Group of Seven industrialised democracies are trying to find a common approach for dealing with the fast-spreading new coronavirus, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday.
The virus is thought to have emerged late last year in a Wuhan market illegally trading wildlife.
It can cause pneumonia and spreads between people in droplets from coughs and sneezes.
It has created alarm because it is spreading quickly and there are still important unknowns surrounding it, such as its death rate and whether it is able to spread before any symptoms show.
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