Asia Markets

Chinese stocks recover partially from Monday plunge; Hong Kong reports first virus-related death

Key Points
  • Mainland Chinese stocks saw gains on Tuesday as they attempted to recover from their Monday plunge.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced Tuesday its decision to leave the cash rate unchanged at 0.75%.
  • Hong Kong's Hospital Authority confirmed on Tuesday morning the first coronavirus-related death in the city, a 39-year-old male. Investors continued to watch for developments on the ongoing virus outbreak that has dented sentiment in recent days as questions remain over its potential economic impact.

Mainland Chinese stocks saw a partial recovery on Tuesday after deep losses on Monday, as investors weighed the potential economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that has killed hundreds in China so far.

Monday's plunge had left mainland Chinese indexes diving more than 7%. By the market close on Tuesday, the Shanghai composite was 1.34% higher at about 2,783.29 while the Shenzhen component jumped 3.17% to 10,089.67. The Shenzhen composite added 1.804% to approximately 1,638.02.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 1.28% higher as of its final hour of trading, as shares of Chinese tech giants Tencent and Alibaba surged 3.26% and 4.2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hospital Authority confirmed on Tuesday morning the first coronavirus-related death in the city, a 39-year-old male.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.49% higher at 23,084.59 while the Topix index gained 0.69% to end its trading day at 1,684.24. South Korea's Kospi surged 1.84% to close at 2,157.90.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia saw gains on the day, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.37% to 6,948.70.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was 1.63% higher.

RBA keeps rates unchanged

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced Tuesday its decision to leave the cash rate unchanged at 0.75%.

Following that announcement, the Australian dollar surged to $0.6719 after seeing an earlier low of $0.6676.

"Due to both global and domestic factors, it is reasonable to expect that an extended period of low interest rates will be required in Australia to reach full employment and achieve the inflation target," RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in a media release announcing the central bank's monetary policy decision.

On the topic of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Lowe said it was a source of uncertainty that is having a "significant effect" on the Chinese economy currently, though it is "too early to determine how long-lasting the impact will be."

"Our expectation over (the) next few months, it'll become apparent that we're not getting further towards the RBA's objective of full employment and inflation within the 2-3% target band," Gareth Aird, senior economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Tuesday.

"Ultimately, they'll have to take the policy rate lower, we think it'll be April," Aird said, though he acknowledged that it's "very much dependent on the data between now and then."

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.879 after rising from levels below 97.5 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.86 against the dollar after seeing an earlier high of 108.54.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asian trading hours. The international benchmark Brent crude futures added 0.4% to $54.67 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.72% to $50.47 per barrel.

Correction: This report was updated to reflect that the Reserve Bank of Australia announced its cash rate decision on Tuesday.