China main indexes fall as coronavirus spreads globally; small caps rise
SHANGHAI, Feb 24 (Reuters) – China’s main stock indexes retreated on Monday, as a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths beyond mainland China overshadowed assurances from Beijing that it would step up efforts to help cushion the blow to its economy, while small-caps extended their bullish run. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.4% to 4,132.84, while the Shanghai Composite Index dipped 0.3% to 3,031.23 points.
** Investor confidence took a knock after South Korea put the country on high alert as the number of infections jumped to over 700 and deaths rose to seven. In Italy, the number of cases jumped to above 150 from just three before Friday. ** Iran, which announced its first infections last week, said it had confirmed 43 cases and eight deaths. ** Sentiment was hurt as the coronavirus outbreak spread outside China, said Linus Yip, analyst with First Shanghai Securities. ** Foreign investors sold a net of nearly 6 billion yuan worth of A-shares via the Stock Connect linking mainland and Hong Kong. ** However, losses were capped in mainland equities as Beijing vowed more support to underpin the economy and as China witnessed fewer new coronavirus cases. ** China will step up policy adjustments to help cushion the blow to the economy from the coronavirus outbreak that authorities are still trying to control, President Xi Jinping was quoted as saying on Sunday. ** China’s central bank will take further steps to support the virus-hit economy, including releasing more liquidity and lowering funding costs for companies, a vice governor of the bank told state media. ** Bucking the broad trend, China’s tech-heavy start-up board index ChiNextP rose 1.7%, adding to the nearly 26% gains so far this year, as investors favour growth companies seen benefiting more from lowering financing costs and policy loosening. ** Liquidity and policy easing are behind the strong rally in China’s start-up companies, the fundamentals of which are not currently justified, said Song Jin, an analyst with Nomura Orient International Securities. ** Mainland China had 409 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said on Monday, down from 648 reported a day earlier. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)
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