February 7, 2020 / 4:59 AM / 19 days ago

China stocks set for worst week in 9 months amid virus fears

* SSEC -0.6%, CSI300 -0.9%, HSI -0.8%, HSCE -1%

* Shanghai shares due for worst week since May

* WHO says coronavirus in China has not peaked

* Economy “disrupted” in Q1 - Chinese officials

HONG KONG, Feb 7 (Reuters) - China stocks fell on Friday, heading for their worst week since May, as a sharply rising death toll from a virus outbreak kept investors on tenterhooks despite policymakers’ efforts to calm nerves. ** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was 0.6% lower at 2,849.51, down 4.3% for the week. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.9%, down 3.4% for the week in its third straight weekly drop. ** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index was lower by 1.1%, the consumer staples sector edged up 0.4%, the real estate index fell 1.4% and healthcare shares lost 1.5%. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong were down almost 1%. The Hang Seng Index fell 0.8% to 27,279.31. ** The smaller Shenzhen index fell 0.6% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.8%. ** The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it was too early to say that the coronavirus outbreak in China was peaking. ** The death toll reached 636 in mainland China and Beijing declared a “people’s war” on the rapidly spreading pathogen. ** China’s economy could be disrupted in the first quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak, but it is expected to recover once the virus is brought under control, a vice governor of the central bank said. ** A banking sector regulatory official said he expects banks’ non-performing loan ratios to rise somewhat amid the outbreak. ** Beijing has spared no effort in its fight to contain the epidemic and the long-term trend of the country’s economic development will not change, Chinese state media reported President Xi Jinping as saying to U.S. President Donald Trump. ** “As the virus spreads, industry sectors more directly exposed to the disruption caused by the virus will likely suffer the largest price swing,” T Rowe Price said in a note, naming Macau’s gaming sector and the Chinese real estate as two of these sectors. ** “We will continue to look closely at which names are best suited to withstand these pressures and how Chinese authorities respond with any potential sector-specific stimulus.” ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.8%, while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 0.2%. ** The yuan was 0.1% weaker at 6.9792 per U.S. dollar. ** As of 0400 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 23.16% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. ** The Shanghai stock index is below its 50-day moving average and below its 200-day moving average. (Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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