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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks extend losses as China virus kills more people

China Vanke, Tata Motors among losers on A300 index

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan extended losses as investors assessed the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak and China manufacturing data.

The Nikkei Asia300 index of companies outside Japan fell 0.8%% to 1,321.17. For the week, the gauge lost 5.4% amid rising concerns over the Chinese epidemic.

As of yesterday, the virus claimed more than 200 lives and infected more than 9,500 people, China's health commission said earlier Friday. That is up from 170 deaths and 7,700 infections as on Wednesday. The World Health Organization yesterday labeled the virus a global health emergency but said it wasn't recommending measures that unnecessarily interfere with international trade or travel.

Meanwhile, China earlier today reported that the manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) recorded a reading of 50 for January, down from 50.2 in the previous month but in line with estimates of analysts polled by Reuters. The non-manufacturing PMI rose to 54.1 from 53.5.

"The official PMIs show that manufacturing activity weakened and non-manufacturing strengthened in the lead-up to the outbreak of the Coronavirus," Capital Economics said in a note. "The following months' PMIs will give insight into how damaging the virus is."

Nomura said it expects "a big plunge for both manufacturing and services PMI in February to a range of 40-45 due to the coronavirus outbreak."

In movers on the A300 on Friday, H-shares of China Vanke lost 0.5%. The property developer said on Friday that it plans to cut February rents by half on its commercial projects in the country because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

LG Electronics declined 1.9% after the South Korean consumer-electronics major reported a wider-than-expected loss for the December quarter.

Tata Motors fell 5.2%. The Indian carmaker yesterday reported a better-than-expected third-quarter profit, aided by unit Jaguar Land Rover, but warned that the coronavirus outbreak in China may damp the financial performance of the luxury automaker in the current quarter.

Bajaj Auto rose 1.1%, adding to yesterday 1.7% advance after the Indian two-wheeler maker reported a better-than-expected 15% rise in quarterly profit, helped by declining raw material costs.

Wipro declined 1.7%. The Indian software exporter said its CEO will step down due to family commitments.

Singapore Airlines edged 0.1% higher after a choppy session. The airline and subsidiary SilkAir said on Friday they will reduce capacity on selected routes to mainland China beginning February due to the growing scale of the coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore Technologies Engineering added 0.5%. The company said it secured new contracts worth more than S$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) during the fourth quarter. Total value of new contracts for last year was about S$8 billion.

-- Nimesh Vora

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