Asian stock markets are tumbling on Friday after U.S. stocks plunged into correction territory overnight amid fears over the rapid spread of the coronavirus globally. In the U.S., California Governor Gavin Newsom said 33 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and the state is currently monitoring at least 8,400 others.
The number of coronavirus infections in South Korea has risen to more than 2,000, while Japan has asked all schools nationwide to close from Monday. Nigeria has confirmed the country’s first case of the coronavirus.
Japanese stocks were among the biggest losers regionally as the Nikkei 225 and Topix index fell 3.7%. Data on Friday showed retail sales in Japan declining 0.4% year-on-year in January. That compared against a median market forecast for a 1.1% decline, according to Reuters.
Mainland China stocks also tumbled, with the Shenzhen component 3.5% lower while the Shenzhen composite slipped 4.6%. Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi was down 3.3% while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia plunged 3.2%.
The Japanese yen, often viewed as a safe-haven currency in times of economic uncertainty, changed hands at 108.93 per dollar after seeing levels above 111.2 earlier in the trading week. The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.462 after dropping from levels around 99.0 yesterday.