Asian markets tumbled Thursday while safe-havens such as the yen, gold, and bonds rose as the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in the Wuhan jumped.
China’s Hubei region, where the coronavirus is believed to have stemmed, reported 242 new daily deaths, double the previous day’s toll, and confirmed 14,840 new cases on February 12.
The rise in the number of cases, which came as delegates followed a new methodology for counting epidemics, is a sevenfold rise from a day before.
It was not clear how the new methods affected the outcomes, nor why the death toll spiked sharply, but it seemed to pound hopes that the virus’ spread might be slowing.
E-mini S&P 500 futures turned from positive to drop 0.3%. Dow Jones futures plunged by the same margin, suggesting a halt in Wall Street’s robust rally.
Ten-year U.S. Treasuries plunged about 3 basis points to 1.607%, the yen strengthened beyond 110 per greenback, and a rally in Asian currencies against the greenback paused.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was steady in morning trade; however, the news beat the week’s flow from stock markets.
Japan’s Nikkei was flat while Australia’s ASX/S&P 200 index reversed from a record peak. The Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fluctuated either side of unchanged.
Overnight, markets had taken comfort from WHO’s emergency program chief explaining the apparent slowdown in the epidemic’s spread as “very reassuring.”
Yet WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had warned that it ought to be viewed with extreme caution.