Chinese stock markets reopened Monday from extended vacation only to crash in early morning trade, as the rapidly spreading coronavirus wreaked havoc on investors’ psyche.
Equity markets throughout mainland China plunged, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index reeling as much as 8.7%. The index reached an intraday low of 2,716.70 before recovering slightly. At the time of writing, the index was down 7.4% at 2,755.33.
The Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index crashed by as much as 9.1% on Monday, reaching a low of 3,639.91. It was last seen nursing losses of 7.3%.
With the exception of Hong Kong, equity markets were down throughout the region. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell more than 1%. Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index also dropped more than 1%.
U.S. stocks followed a similar trajectory on Friday, as the major indexes headed for their worst day since the summer. The selloff dragged the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index into negative territory for 2020.
Chinese stocks are on pace for their biggest one-day retreat since August 2015 when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) unexpectedly devalued the yuan currency, pushing global markets into a tailspin [The Wall Street Journal].
Last week, Chinese authorities announced that mainland markets would go on extended holiday to prevent exactly this scenario from transpiring. They correctly predicted that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak would rattle market sentiment and send investors running.
To shore up confidence, China’s central bank announced it will inject 1.2 trillion yuan (U.S.$174 billion) into the financial markets on Monday [South China Morning Post]. The emergency liquidity boost failed to inspire investor confidence as the number of coronavirus infections skyrocketed over the weekend.
At the time of writing, there were 17,335 confirmed infections , including 362 deaths [John Hopkins]. Mainland China remains the epicenter of the outbreak, though cases have been reported in more than two-dozen countries including Japan, Thailand, the United States, Australia and Germany.
The last time the author reported on coronavirus was Thursday when there were more than 8,100 confirmed infections. That figure has more than doubled in just three days. The number of confirmed cases is likely to increase as the time lag between infection and symptom onset closes [Science Daily].