Shares fall in Asia as virus outbreak hits profits, events

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People walk past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. Shares have fallen in Asia as the impact from the virus outbreak that began in China deepened, with Apple saying it would fail to meet its profit target and China moving to cancel major events including the Beijing auto show. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

BANGKOK – Shares slipped in Asia on Tuesday as the impact from the virus outbreak that began in China deepened, with Apple saying it would fail to meet its profit target and China moving to postpone or cancel major events including the Beijing auto show.

Signs suggest China may postpone its annual congress, its biggest political meeting of the year. The standing committee for the National People’s Congress will meet Feb. 24 to deliberate postponing the meeting that is due to start March 5.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 1.4% to 23,193.80 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1.3% to 27,590.69. In South Korea, the Kospi shed 1.5% to 2,208.88, while the Shanghai Composite index edged 0.1% lower, to 2,981.68. Australia's S&P ASX/200 also was down less than 0.1%, at 7,113.70. Shares also fell in Taiwan, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur but rose in Jakarta.

Shanghai's benchmark jumped more than 2% on Monday after the central bank rolled out more measures to help support the economy. Most other markets also rose.

China's biannual auto show, one of the industry's biggest international events, has been postponed, and many sports and entertainment events have been delayed or canceled to avoid travel that may spread the virus. The death toll from the outbreak rose to 1,868, and the total of confirmed cases to 72,436.

China reported 1,886 new virus cases and 98 more deaths in its update Tuesday. A report saying the disease outbreak has caused a mild illness in most people raised optimism among global health authorities.

But as the outbreak persists, bringing new travel advisories and disrupting trade, travel and supply chains, it is casting a vast shadow over the regional economy.

“Best to buckle in as we could be in for a bumpy ride the next few weeks as I'm struggling to find any research report that doesn't suggest: “Covid-19 could significantly affect short term earnings: Reiterate Sell,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a report.