By Alex Ho
Investing.com - Asian markets were mixed on Thursday. Chinese stocks underperformed amid a spike in the number of new diagnosed coronavirus cases in the Hubei province.
Hubei, the province at the center of the epidemic, reported an additional 242 deaths and 14,840 new cases of coronavirus today, a 45% increase from the previous day.
The province said it tweaked its methodology and is starting to include “clinically diagnosed” cases in its figures, which refers to using CT imaging scans to diagnose patients.13,332 of the new cases fall under that classification.
The abrupt spike reversed the declining growth trend of previous days and shocked the markets.
“I think the market’s got to grapple with this ... new method ... of calculating cases,” Chris Watling, CEO of Longview Economics, told CNBC in an interview. ,
“I suspect they might look straight through it once they work out that it doesn’t sound like it’s more cases, it’s just a change in methodology,” Watling said.
Chinese and Hong Kong stocks fell into negative territory after opening higher following the news.
The Shanghai Composite traded 0.2% lower by 10:30 PM ET (02:30 GMT), while the Shenzhen Component fell 0.5%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.3%. Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Group Holding Ltd (HK:9988)’s shares were up about 0.2% as the company prepares to announce its quarterly financial results later in the day.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 inched up 0.1%. SoftBank remained in focus after the company said its quarterly profit was almost wiped out by losses at its $100 billion Vision Fund. The Japanese conglomerate saw its shares surging as much as 14% after a U.S. judge approved a $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, the carrier SoftBank bought nearly a decade ago.
South Korea’s KOSPI gained 0.6%.
Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 climbed 0.3%.