China stocks slip on lingering virus worries
Wednesday, February 19, 2020       15:18 WIB

HONG KONG, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Shares in Shanghai ended a three-day winning streak on Wednesday as worries persisted over the spreading coronavirus epidemic, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives and weighed on business activity in the country.
At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.3% at 2,975.40. The index rose in the previous three trading days. The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.2%.
CSI300's financial sector sub-index rose 0.11%, the consumer staples sector was up 1.43%, the real estate index fell 0.01% and the healthcare sub-index was down 1.59%.
The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.55% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 1.452%.
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China crossed 2,000 on Wednesday although the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, as authorities tightened already severe containment measures in the worst-hit city of Wuhan.
The world's second-largest economy is struggling to get its manufacturing sector back on track after imposing severe travel restrictions to contain a virus that emerged in the central province of Hubei late last year.
Analysts at Nomura estimated 70% of workers who went home for the extended holidays have yet to return to cities to work, and said the business resumption rate, based on capacity utilization, was less than 40% on average.
China will cut some pension contributions and insurance fees to help companies cope with the coronavirus, while firms in Hubei are exempted from paying pensions, jobless and work-injury insurance until June.
The stock market is underpinned by policy support and deregulation such as tweaks to refinancing rules, said Zhang Chi, analyst at Western Securities. Policymakers have implemented a raft of measures to support the economy amid the virus outbreak.
Around the region, MSCI 's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.5%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed up 0.9%.
At 0725 GMT, the yuan was flat at 6.9965 per U.S. dollar.
So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 2.5% and the CSI300 has fallen 1.2%. Shanghai stocks are pretty much flat so far this month.
About 31.51 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange. The volume in the previous trading session was 31.17 billion.
The Shanghai stock index is below its 50-day moving average and above its 200-day moving average. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Noah Sin; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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