China stocks drop beyond 7% amid virus fears after Lunar New Year holiday

China Stocks  plummeted more than 7% on Monday as they returned to trade following an extended holiday amid an ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The Shanghai composite fell 7.72% to close at about 2,746.61 while the Shenzhen component dropped 8.45% to end its trading day about 9,779.67. The Shenzhen composite also declined 8.414% to close at around 1,609.00. The indexes all fell around 9% in early trade during the session.

The moves on the mainland came following an extended holiday amid an ongoing virus outbreak that has taken more than 300 lives in the country so far.

The People’s Bank of China announced Sunday that it will inject 1.2 trillion yuan (approx. $173 billion) worth of liquidity into the markets via open market reverse repo operations. The Chinese central bank said the overall liquidity in the system would be 900 billion yuan (approx. $130 billion) more as compared to the same period last year.

“While this will be the largest single-day addition since 2004, it implies a mere net injection of RMB150bn as commercial banks are scheduled to repay RMB1.05tn of funds on Monday,” strategists at Singapore’s DBS Group Research wrote in a note. “The authority may need to inject more cash in the rest of the week via reverse repo and/or medium-term lending facility to soothe market nerves.”

″(The Chinese government) may have another kind of rate cut … or RRR cut. But honestly speaking … it can only (help) a little bit at this moment,” Dickie Wong, executive director at Kingston Securities, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Monday.

Comparing it to the situation two months ago when concerns largely centered around trade frictions between Beijing and Washington, Wong said Chinese officials and the government had “more tools” then to tackle problems.

At the moment, however, he said: “The first priority amongst all priorities would definitely (be) to solve this virus outbreak.”

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.35%, as of its final hour of trading, with shares of Chinese tech juggernauts Tencent and Alibaba jumping 2.04% and 2.5%, respectively.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 1.01% to close at 22,971.94 while the Topix index also declined 0.7% to end its trading day at 1,672.66. South Korea’s Kospi closed largely unchanged at 2,118.88.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia tumbled as well, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 1.34% lower at 6,923.30 as shares of major miner BHP fell 2.92%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was 0.81% lower.

Source: Reuters