The stock market closed flat Wednesday, with investors staying cautious after a deadly virus from China was confirmed to have spread to the United States.
The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 2.08 points, or 0.03 percent, to 7,468.73 on a value turnover of P7.1 billion. Losers edged gainers, 93 to 88, with 53 issues unchanged.
Manila Water Co. Inc. rallied 5.1 percent to P9.86, while casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corp. rose 4.1 percent to P10.40.
Globe Telecom Inc., the second-biggest telecommunications company, fell 3.1 percent to P1,973, while rival PLDT Inc., the largest telephone operator, declined 2.9 percent to P1,037.
The rest of Asian markets bounced back Wednesday on bargain-buying following the previous day’s sharp losses but investors remained on edge following the outbreak of a new deadly virus.
Global equities took a severe hit on fears the new outbreak, which has killed nine and sickened hundreds, could cause as much economic damage as the SARS epidemic that killed hundreds of people in 2003.
Shanghai dived more than one percent in early trade, extending the previous day’s 1.4-percent drop, with authorities battling to contain the coronavirus strain as China prepares for the Lunar New Year holidays when millions of people travel across the country.
Officials warned Wednesday the strain could mutate and spread.
Most markets across Asia were in positive territory Wednesday as traders kept tabs on developments linked to the virus.
“The main focus for investors still appears to be on the underlying economic data,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets UK.
Tokyo ended up 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong added 1.2 percent following a 2.8 percent plunge the previous day.
Sydney rose 0.9 percent, Wellington added 0.7 percent and Singapore put on 0.2 percent. Seoul climbed more than one percent after data showed South Korea’s economic growth rallied at the end of last year, indicating a bright outlook for 2020.
However, Chinese mainland shares performed a U-turn to end the day with gains.
Tourism-linked firms—which had by hit on concerns about the impact on the global economy just as it shows signs of a tentative recovery from a long-running slowdown—also enjoyed a reverse.
After a sell-off in Asia on Tuesday, news that the US had reported its first case hit Wall Street with the Dow and S&P 500 sinking from record highs.
Fears of a bigger outbreak rose after a prominent expert from China’s National Health Commission confirmed Monday that the virus can be passed between people.
The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting later Wednesday to determine whether to declare a global public health emergency over the disease, which has also been detected in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
“While it is still early days, there is a risk that any outbreak could depress consumer sentiment and spending, including tourism as well as travel and transport related business,” said National Australia Bank’s Rodrigo Catril.
“In addition to the sad and devastating human cost, (SARS) also had an economic impact with epicentres such as Hong Kong enduring a short-lived recession. With AFP
“This time the epicentre is in China, so the economic growth impact could be more severe.” With AFP