Fears over the new coronavirus rattled investors in Asia Friday as they struggled to work out if the China epidemic was worse than being reported by authorities.
A dramatic rise in the number of deaths and new cases of the virus on Thursday fuelled global suspicions that Beijing was concealing the true scale of the illness.
Concern turned to confusion on Friday, however, as the death toll was lowered to 1,380 after authorities said they had double-counted some fatalities.
The uncertainty came as Vietnam quarantined more than 10,000 people in a cluster of villages after six virus cases were detected and Japan reported its first death.
“There are still some lingering concerns hanging like a cloud over the market that we could still get a surprise secondary transmission cluster,” said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp.
“But the intensity and market de-risking is nowhere near the feverish pitches of last Friday.”
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.59 percent amid concerns over the economic impact from the virus.
Nissan dived 9.64 percent after the crisis-hit carmaker revised down its full-year sales and profit forecasts, warning that the impact from the epidemic was not yet included in their figures.
After dipping at the open, Shanghai ended the day up 0.38 percent.
Hong Kong recovered initial losses to close 0.31 percent higher as investors weighed up the possibility that Thursday’s sharp increase — triggered by a change in the way Chinese officials count new infections — was a one-off.
Elsewhere, Sydney put on 0.38 percent, Seoul added 0.48 percent and Taipei gained 0.20 percent.
The surge in virus numbers sent Wall Street into the red on Thursday — a reversal from the previous day when the three main indexes closed at record highs.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 was down 0.42 percent shortly after opening Friday, while the Paris CAC 40 index shed 0.19 percent.