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Asian Markets Fall; China's Trade Data, Coronavirus Development in Focus

By Alex Ho

Investing.com - Asian markets fell in morning trade on Friday. China's trade data, which is due later in the day, is expected to generate some focus as investors tried to assess the potential economic impact of the virus outbreak in China.

China’s Shanghai Composite lost 0.6% by 10:30 PM ET (02:30 GMT), while the Shenzhen Component slid 1.2%,

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in China reached 636, with those affected topping 31,000, prompting the World Health Organization to warn that it was "too early" to declare a peak in the spread of the new disease.

China is due to report its trade data later in the day.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index traded 0.9% lower.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded 0.3% lower. The country’s household spending slipped 4.8% in December from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, coming in well below a median forecast for a 1.7% decline.

SoftBank Corp (T:9434)’s stock surged 6.3% after reports said activist Paul Singer’s Elliott Management has built more than $2.5 billion stake in the company.

South Korea’s KOSPI fell 1.1%.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reduced forecasts for the country’s short term economic growth, but said it expects a rapid recovery later in the year.

The RBA hinted In its quarterly economic outlook it was in no rush to cut rates again, unless unemployment move "materially higher.”

The central bank now expects economic growth would to reach 1.9% in the year to June, down from a previous prediction of 2.6%.

RBA Governor Philip Lowe noted the balance of risks on easing could shift according to how the economy performed.

"If the unemployment rate were to be moving materially higher and there was no further progress being made towards the inflation target, the balance of arguments would tilt towards a further easing of monetary policy," he wrote in the outlook.

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