(Bloomberg) — China’s massive financial markets may remain closed until at least next Monday after authorities extended the Lunar New Year break by three days as they grapple with the worsening virus crisis.
There has been no official comment from the China Securities Regulatory Commission or the Shanghai or Shenzhen stock exchanges on whether markets will reopen on Friday as originally planned. In 2003, officials extended a May Day holiday market closure by four trading days during the outbreak of SARS. Meantime, Shanghai authorities advised that companies shouldn’t start work until at least Feb. 9.
China’s stock market, the world’s second largest, last saw trading on Jan. 23, when the Shanghai benchmark tumbled 2.8% in the worst eve to a Lunar Year in its three-decade history. Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index sank as much as 5.9% in Singapore on Monday, while the offshore yuan dropped 0.6% as of 4:04 p.m. Singapore time.
The death toll from the virus has risen to at least 80 in China, with confirmed cases reaching 2,744. Authorities said on Sunday the infectious disease isn’t under control as officials struggle to contain the outbreak despite placing curbs on movement in some cities. In the epicenter of Wuhan, 5 million people left the city before the lockdown, Mayor Zhou Xianwang said Sunday, according to the South China Morning Post.
Hong Kong’s financial markets are due to reopen on Wednesday. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Saturday upgraded the government’s response against the coronavirus to the highest level, and said the outbreak could extend the city’s recession into 2020. Hong Kong had six confirmed infections as of Sunday.
The virus may increase tensions in the city. Protesters on Sunday set fire to an unoccupied housing estate in the north of the city after the government said it may be used as a quarantine facility. Medical staff have threatened to strike if the city doesn’t close the border with China to limit the spread of the illness.
(Adds reference to Shanghai office-closure guidance in second paragraph.)
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