India stocks plunge 11% 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 11.04% in afternoon trade while the BSE Sensex fell about 11% as well. 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 7.49%.

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 4.57%, as of its final hour of trading.

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 5.19%.

“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.”

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