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Asian Markets Gain as Central Banks Take Action to Combat Virus Impact

By Alex Ho

Investing.com - Asian markets gained on Tuesday morning as global central banks began to take actions to combat the coronavirus’ impact on the economies.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component gained 1.4% and 2.1% respectively by 11:45 PM ET (03:45 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.7%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded 0.2% higher.

The KOSPI jumped 2.0%. South Korea’s economy grew by a seasonally adjusted 1.3% in the October-December period from the previous quarter, just above a 1.2% rise estimated earlier, the Bank of Korea’s revised gross domestic product data showed.

From a year earlier, South Korea grew a revised 2.3% during the fourth quarter, also better than a 2.2% expansion estimated in January.

Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.4% after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its cash rate to 0.50% at its March policy meeting this morning. The rate is now at a fresh record low following three previous reductions in June, July and October.

“The coronavirus has clouded the near-term outlook for the global economy and means that global growth in the first half of 2020 will be lower than earlier expected,” central bank governor Philip Lowe said in a statement.

“It is too early to tell how persistent the effects of the coronavirus will be and at what point the global economy will return to an improving path.”

Spreading of the coronavirus worsened over the weekend, as cases in Italy, Iran and South Korea spiked while Australia and the U.S. reported their first deaths from the virus.

Markets now await a conference call between global financial ministers and central bankers, which would be led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, to discuss how to respond to the outbreak.

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