Asia Markets: Asian markets slide as U.S. ratchets up rhetoric blaming China for spread of coronavirus

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Asian stocks slid early Monday, as tensions rose between the U.S. and China over the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index HSI, -3.70% tumbled 3.7%, while South Korea’s Kospi 180721, -1.59% fell 1.8%. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -2.19% , Singapore STI, -2.27% and Indonesia JAKIDX, -2.20% dropped, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.81% edged up 0.4%. Markets in Japan and mainland China were closed for holidays.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday blamed China for the spread of COVID-19 and said the country must be held accountable. Last week, President Donald Trump threatened to impose new tariffs against Chinese-made goods to punish China for allegedly downplaying the severity of the disease. U.S. officials believe China covered up the full extent of the outbreak and the illnesses’ level of contagiousness while it hoarded needed medical supplies, the Associated Press reported Sunday. Pompeo also suggested, without presenting evidence, that the coronavirus spread from a Chinese lab.

U.S. stock futures were sharply lower late Sunday, following another selloff on Wall Street on Friday, as Trump’s threats against China added to poor earnings reports to weigh on investors.

After rallying last week, West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery CLM20, -3.84% fell in electronic trading Sunday night, while July Brent crude BRNN20, +0.03% , the global benchmark, retreated slightly.

The dollar USDJPY, -0.14% fell slightly against the Japanese yen.