HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares headed lower on Friday for the first time this week, as confirmed cases and fatalities from the Wuhan coronavirus grew.
The Hang Seng Index shed 0.8% to 27,279.31 by noon. Among heavyweights, AIA Group and Ping An Insurance Group declined 1.4% and 1.1%, respectively, while Tencent Holdings slipped 0.8%. Property developer China Overseas Land & Investment decreased 1.1% following a 17.9% drop in last month's contracted sales.
Despite Friday's pull back, the local index is up 3.7% for the week, on track to deliver its biggest weekly gain since early December. In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.6% after rising for three days. Recent gains for Hong Kong and China's equity markets came amid extended gains for U.S. equities, supportive measures from the People's Bank of China, signs of further progress in the de-escalation of the Sino-American trade war and speculation of support from mainland investors.
Still, broader market sentiment has been under pressure as participants assess the extent of the global economic impact from the Wuhan coronavirus. China late on Thursday reported more than 31,000 confirmed cases of people with virus infections, and a death toll of 636. So far, there have been two virus-linked fatalities outside China, one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
"The market now is still rather pessimistic," said Stanley Chik, head of research at Bright Smart Securities. "As long as the virus shows signs of spreading, chances that the market to correct will be very high, so investors better not drop their guard."
Any positive news is likely to spark a rebound, but such news will only have a limited impact, he added.
TCL Electronics Holdings jumped 13.2% in Hong Kong after the consumer electronics company said it expects profit for the year ended Dec. 31 to have increased at least 120% from a year ago amid improving profit margins.
Casino operator Wynn Macau fell 2.8% after reporting a 2.3% decline in fourth-quarter net profit.
Property developer China Aoyuan Group declined 3.1% after reporting a 9.7% decrease in January contracted sales from a year ago.
Freight-forwarding company YTO Express (International) Holdings slid 10.7% after saying it expects to report a "substantial" year-over-year decline in profit for the year ended Dec. 31.
Cosmetics retailer Sa Sa International Holdings slipped 0.7% after reporting a 76.9% plunge in retail sales in Hong Kong and Macao during the Lunar New Year holiday due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Alibaba Health Information Technology rose 0.7% after saying it plans to buy all of Ali JK ZNS from a unit of its parent Alibaba Group Holding for 8.08 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1.04 billion).
-- Benny Kung