Asian shares slump after Trump announcement on virus plans

People walk past an electronic board showing Hong Kong share index outside a local bank in Hong Kong, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Shares fell in Asia on Thursday after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was stepping up its efforts to combat the virus outbreak that began in China. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
People walk past an electronic board showing Hong Kong share index outside a local bank in Hong Kong, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Shares fell in Asia on Thursday after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was stepping up its efforts to combat the virus outbreak that began in China. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Shares fell in Asia on Thursday after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was stepping up its efforts to combat the virus outbreak that began in China.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 2.1% to 21,951.78, while in Australia, the S&P ASX/200 dropped 0.8% to 6,653.50. In South Korea, where 334 new cases of the virus were reported, the Kospi dropped 0.9% to 2,058.10. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.7% to 26,519.65. Shares also fell in Jakarta, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

Trump told reporters he was open to spending “whatever's appropriate” to fight the virus, after the Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York suggested $8.5 billion instead of the requested $2.5 billion. He put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the effort.

But health officials standing beside Trump warned more infections are coming. And shortly after Trump spoke, the government announced that another person in the U.S. was infected — someone in California who appears not to have the usual risk factors of having traveled abroad or being exposed to another patient.

Major U.S. stock indexes gave up early gains, closing mostly lower Wednesday and extending the market’s heavy losses for the week.

“The market is still digesting the full impact of what the coronavirus could mean for global GDP growth and, more importantly, on earnings growth for a lot of companies,” said Nadia Lovell, U.S. equity strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

The S&P 500 index fell 0.4% to 3,116.39. It’s on track for its biggest monthly decline since May. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 123.77 points, or 0.5%, to 26,957.59, for a three-day loss of 2,034 points. A modest rally in technology stocks helped nudge the Nasdaq composite to a 0.2% gain, to 8,980.77.

Smaller company stocks fell the most. The Russell 2000 index lost 0.5% to 1,724.76.