Epidemic concerns depress Chinese stocks

Yuan Luhang
Global markets are hit by the ongoing panic over the coronavirus with almost all sectors taking a hit in China apart from medical and transport services. 
Yuan Luhang

Chinese stocks plunged as global markets sunk during a panic over the coronavirus epidemic.

At close on Monday, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 3.01 percent to 2,943.29 points, while the smaller Shenzhen Component Index dropped 4.09 percent to 11,108.55. The blue chip CSI300 Index tumbled 3.42 percent to 3,997.13.

Turnover on the two major bourses totaled 1.09 trillion yuan (US$157 billion). Chinese mainland markets saw a 12.1-billion-yuan net outflow of overseas capital via Stock Connect schemes linking Shanghai and Shenzhen with Hong Kong.

Almost all sectors lost, and only medical and transport services gained. Shares in 24 mask companies rose by the daily limit of 10 percent while 3,234 individual shares fell and only 523 advanced.

Japan's Nikkei fell 5.07 percent and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 3.0 percent to reach a five-month low. Hong Kong stocks lost 4.23 percent.

As the outbreak reached more than 100 countries and regions, the number of people infected with coronavirus topped 107,000 worldwide and caused more worries about the global economy.

However, the external fluctuation has limited influence on the A share market, according to a research report of eastmoney.com.

It said that although the upward trend of the A share market was disturbed, many market opportunities await, such as shares related to infrastructure construction, 5G, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, which are backed by supportive policies.

Dramatic fluctuations in oil prices also brought instability and unrest.

Oil prices plunged more than 20 percent on Monday after Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, slashed its official April selling price following the collapse of OPEC’s oil-supply-cut pact with Russia on Friday.

The three-year pact between OPEC and Russia set limits on production, but expired when Moscow refused to support more oil cuts to cope with the coronavirus epidemic.

Saudi Arabia plans to raise its crude-oil production significantly above 10 million barrels per day in April, closer to 11 million. 

Brent crude futures slid US$9.39 to US$35.88 a barrel in chaotic trade, while US crude shed US$8.77 to US$32.51.

Crude oil prices plunged more than 5 percent in the Shanghai Futures Exchange.

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