Stocks of Asia-based airlines decline as China faces fears of coronavirus

Reuters has reported airline stocks in Asia have declined in the face of fears surrounding the coronavirus, a new virus in China that, to date, has killed four people, the news source said.

Chinese authorities on Tuesday confirmed a fourth death related to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. An official has also confirmed that the disease can spread from person-to-person, the report said.

Hong Kong-listed shares of China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines dropped 6.7% and 6.51%, respectively, and Cathay Pacific dropped 4.07%. Elsewhere, Japan Airlines declined 2.97% in Japan while ANA lost 2.16%. Australia´s Qantas fell 1.7%.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Ping An and China Life Insurance dropped 4.31% and 4.95%, respectively. Stocks of casino operators also fell, with Wynn Macau plunging 4.81% and Melco International Development diving 4.35%. Wynn has a significant exposure to China.

Outside China, cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, Japan and South Korea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The annual Chinese New Year celebration has ignited fears of a further spread of the virus and kindled memories of the fatal Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic in 2002 and 2003. SARS killed 800 people — most of them from China and Hong Kong — during that period, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Also caused by a coronavirus, the SARS pandemic cost the global economy tens of billions of dollars.