China stocks fall as economic worries weigh ahead of GDP data

China stocks fell on Thursday ahead of the release of first-quarter GDP data, which analysts widely expect will show the economy suffering its first quarterly contraction in nearly 30 years as the new coronavirus outbreak paralyzes activity.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.2% to 2,806.46. The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.4%. ** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index fell 0.3%, the consumer staples sector was down 0.8% and the healthcare sub-index slipped 0.1%.

** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong fell 0.6%, while the Hang Seng Index was down 0.8% at 23,954.81. ** The smaller Shenzhen index lost 0.3% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index edged up 0.5%.

** China is expected to publish its first-quarter GDP, activity data 0200 GMT on Friday. ** A Reuters poll shows the coronavirus crisis likely knocked China’s economy into its first decline since at least 1992 in the first quarter, raising the heat on authorities to do more to restore growth as mounting job losses threaten social stability.

** “Although the market is already expecting the shock to first-quarter economic activity, the difficult reality of company performance will nevertheless pressure share prices, (hence we) need to pay attention to the market impact of this week’s first-quarter economic data and the first quarterly reports due this month,” analysts at Everbright Securities wrote in a note. ** Growth in Asia will grind to a halt for the first time in 60 years in 2020, the International Monetary Fund said, as exporters are pounded by slumping demand and anti-virus measures force consumers to stay home and shops to shut down.

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** China reported fewer new coronavirus cases involving travelers arriving from overseas, but locally transmitted infections rose, with the Chinese capital seeing new local cases for the first time in more than three weeks. ** China’s new home prices in March grew at its slowest annual pace since June 2018, but a pick-up in momentum reflected some signs of recovery. The CSI300 real estate index ticked up 0.1%.

** U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his government was trying to determine whether the coronavirus emanated from a lab in Wuhan. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.9%, while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 1.4%.

** So far this year, the Shanghai Composite is down more than 7.9%, while the CSI300 is down 7.6%. The Shanghai index is up about 2% so far this month.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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