China Markets

Gaming stocks slammed as Chinese tourists to Macao plummet amid coronavirus fears

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Key Points
  • By Wednesday's market close, shares of Melco International Development dropped 5.18% while Wynn Macau declined 4.11%. Sands China also plummeted 5.57% while Galaxy Entertainment fell 5.17% and SJM Holdings slipped 3.59%.
  • Mainland Chinese visitor arrivals to Macao during the Spring Festival Golden Week from Jan. 24 to 28 plunged 79.2% compared to a year earlier, according to provisional government data.
A motorcyclist wearing a face mask looks at his phone on his bike on January 28, 2020 in Macau, China.
Anthony Kwan | Getty Images

Hong Kong-listed gaming stocks took a beating on Wednesday as official data showed Chinese mainland visitor arrivals to Macao plummeting during the Lunar New Year holiday period.

By Wednesday's market close, shares of Melco International Development dropped 5.18% while Wynn Macau declined 4.11%. Sands China also plummeted 5.57% while Galaxy Entertainment fell 5.17% and SJM Holdings slipped 3.59%.

Mainland Chinese visitor arrivals to Macao during this year's Spring Festival Golden Week from Jan. 24 to 28 plunged 79.2% compared to last year's Golden Week holiday, according to provisional government data. Macao is a special administrative region of China and a major gambling hub in Asia. Visitors from mainland China make up the majority of Macao's tourists.

The latest data comes as China battles to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has already infected more people than SARS in the country. Chinese health officials said confirmed on Wednesday that there are 5,974 confirmed cases, and the death toll has risen to 132.

Fears over the potential economic impact have sent markets across the globe reeling in recent days.

One economist told CNBC on Wednesday that the virus struck at an "especially inopportune moment."

"The Chinese economy has already been slowing significantly since late 2018 and the services sector, I can't stress how important it is for the Chinese economy now," Darren Tay, Asia country risk analyst at Fitch Solutions, told CNBC's "Capital Connection" on Wednesday.

"Besides the fact that it is now 62% ... of GDP in China, it is also the main growth engine throughout China's slowdown in the past five quarters ... or so."

"If this is hit now, it's going to be very bad news for the economy," Tay said.