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India stocks plummet 13% as coronavirus uncertainty continues to roil Asia markets

Stocks in Asia Pacific saw sharp drops on Monday as fears over the economic impact of the global coronavirus outbreak continue to weigh heavily on investor sentiment.

In India, the Nifty 50 dropped 12.98% to close at 7,610.25 while the BSE Sensex ended its trading day 13.15% lower at 25,981.24. The two indexes had earlier halted trading temporarily after the Sensex fell 10%, triggering a circuit breaker. 

Meanwhile, the Straits Times Index in Singapore plunged 7.35% to close at 2,233.48.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 5.62% to close at 4,546.00 as the sectors largely declined.

South Korea stocks also saw substantial declines, with the Kospi falling 5.34% to end its trading day at 1,482.46. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 4.86% to close at 21,696.13.

Mainland Chinese stocks were also lower on the day, with the Shanghai composite down 3.11% to around 2,660.17 while the Shenzhen composite shed 4.259% to approximately 1,631.88. The Shenzhen component also dropped 4.52% to 9,691.53.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan bucked the overall trend regionally as it jumped 2.02% to close at 16,887.78, while the Topix index edged 0.68% higher to end its trading day at 1,292.01.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index fell 5.73%.

“The economic costs of the COVID-19 outbreak are beginning to reveal themselves,” Richard Yetsenga, chief economist at ANZ, wrote in a note. “We have substantially revised our G3 growth forecasts lower, with the US likely to record its weakest performance since 1946.”

The global coronavirus outbreak continues to spread rapidly across the world, with the number of infected now over 294,000 and more than 12,900 lives taken, according to data from the World Health Organization. 

“It’s fair to say that Asian markets will continue to trade off negative sentiment coming out of Europe and the U.S.,” James Sullivan, head of Asia ex-Japan equity research at J.P. Morgan, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday. Still, he added: “We would be selectively adding to exposure here.”

Sullivan outlined two “key components to a buy case in trying to find a bottom in markets” at present. Firstly, he highlighted “aggressive fiscal implementation” by governments around the region, citing efforts in Hong Kong as well as Australia.

“The other is a market structure conversation,” Sullivan said. “You saw significant liquidity impacts across global markets as we’ve worked our way through this crisis, we do see this as one of the sharpest, but also on our numbers at least, one of the shortest global downturns that we’ve seen in the history of markets.”

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asian hours on Monday as international benchmark Brent crude futures fell 5.78% to $25.42 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also declined 2.39% to $22.09 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 102.765 after breaching the 100 level last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.73 per dollar after weakening from levels below 108 last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.5726 following highs above $0.6 seen last week.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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