Asian Markets Climbs as Investors Continue to Watch Virus Situation

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By Alex Ho – Asian markets traded higher on Friday in Asia. Investor sentiment remained fragile, however, as death toll related to the Coronavirus in China continued to rise.

The number of cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus as of January 23 has gone up to 830 in China, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 25, the National Health Commission announced on Friday.

On Thursday, The World Health Organization said the new coronavirus remains a local crisis for now, stopped short of calling the virus a global health emergency.

“Make no mistake, this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, said at a briefing in Geneva Thursday. “It may yet become one.”

The decision came after officials in China issued restrictions on travel and public gatherings in Wuhan, the city in China where the virus was first detected earlier on Thursday.

Hong Kong and Beijing are canceling planned holiday activities, according to local officials and state media.

Markets in mainland China and South Korea are shut, while Hong Kong closes early, for lunar new year holidays.

The Hang Seng Index climbed 0.2% by 10:59 PM ET (02:59 GMT).

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was little changed.

Japan’s core consumer prices rose 0.7% in December from a year earlier, data showed on Friday, accelerating from the 0.5% previous month.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 gained 0.2%.

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