Asian markets are flat for the most part on Friday as investors weight the potential impacts of the Wuhan coronavirus after the World Health Organization failed to declare the illness a global emergency, saying it hadn’t become that bad yet. Also, in China authorities moved to quarantine the city of Wuhan and surrounding areas, cancelling most flights and closing down train and bus stations.
Markets in China and South Korea are already closed for the Chinese Lunar New Year, which will last all next week. In addition, Hong Kong’s market will close early today. Early Friday the Hang Seng trades lower by 0.2%.
In Japan, early gains fizzled out and the Nikkei is trading flat with a gain of less than 0.1%. The Yen is continuing to strengthen for a fourth consecutive session, making it very likely that Japanese exporter shares will fall later in the session, taking the Nikkei into negative territory.
In Australia, investors are shrugging off the coronavirus scare, and the S&P/ASX 200 trades 0.4% higher heading into the afternoon. The banking sector is doing well today, with ANZ trading 0.7% higher, NAB up 1%, Commonwealth Bank gaining 0.9%, and Westpac 0.9% higher as well. Shares of oil companies are holding up well as crude prices have stabilized after their overnight drop. Major miners are falling, with BHP down 1.1% and Rio Tinto down 2%. Gold miners are holding up well, however, and Newcrest Mining is 1.4% higher.
In Southeast Asia markets are mixed, with Singapore’s Straits Times slightly higher, but the KLCI in Malaysia slightly lower.