\"\"It’s affecting markets around the world. American stocks took but tumbled down, NASD, S.P. the entire market was affecting still don’t panic. WAJest markets go along carefully.  Any and all decisions must be made carefully and evaluated.

Exodus from Hong Kong shares as virus death toll raises  

Chinese stocks in Hong Kong suffered their worst weekly performance in almost two years as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rises.


The Hang Seng China Enterprises index – which tracks mainland Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong – has fallen 6.7 per cent this week. It’s steepest decline since February 2018.


Concern among investors about the contagion has grown in recent days with the number of infections in China having surpassed the global total from the deadly Sars epidemic in 2002-03.


Traders are bracing for a sharp sell-off when equity markets in the mainland Chinese cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen return from an extended lunar new year holiday on Monday.


When they “reopen the market (it) is going to be quite harsh. The last thing (the Chinese government) really needs is for the stock market to really crash out”.


More than 9600 people in China have now been infected with the virus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.


It has since spread to other countries, including Thailand, Australia and the US. The first reported cases in the UK were confirmed yesterday. All of the 213 people who have died so far have been in China. It is going to be quite harsh. The last thing it really needs is for the stock market to really crash out”.  


As well as battering equity markets, the contagion has also raised fears over the impact on China’s economic growth, already at a three-decade low. Those concerns have fed through to the price of the agricultural commodities of which China is significant consumer.


The price of Chicago-traded soya bean futures has fallen 6.6 per cent in January, the worst monthly performance in almost 18 months.


The decline understood investors’ concerns about Chinese difficulties meeting its commitment to import more agricultural products from the US.


The agreement is a key part of the so-called “phase one” trade deal reached between Washington and Beijing last month.

The route in Asian equities this week has also resulted in investors seeking out concerns of the market that stand to benefit from the epidemic.


At least eight Hong Kong-listed pharmaceutical companies have notched up double-digit gains on expectations of higher demand for their medicines.


China Health Group, an obscure small-cap listed in the city, has soared more than 1,600 percent since Monday.


Extrawell Pharmaceutical and China NT Pharma have jumped 173 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively.


Good Samaritans are handing out free face masks in Dubai and Sharjah in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, following reports of shortages at most pharmacies in UAE.


Filipino expatriate Lyle Daguino Ham told Gulf News that he and his friend Patrick Fronda, decided to give away the surgical masks for free “because people have become wary about reports of coronavirus and are looking for face masks to protect them”.


We ourselves had a hard time looking for face masks until I found them readily available at a hypermarket in Sharjah.


Ham and Fronda bought ten boxes containing 50 surgical masks at Dh6 per pack and distributed them to anyone they met on the street in Al Nahda on Thursday night.


Ham bought more masks and distributed them in Al Rigga, Dubai on Friday night. “We were just happy to give out free masks,” said Ham. “We knew people were scrambling for them and that some stores have allegedly hiked up their prices,” he added.


DED Warning

Meanwhile, Dubai Economic Department (DED) has warned pharmacies not to hike prices of face masks. The warning came after Gulf News reported a shortage on Wednesday in local stores.

“DED instructs pharmacies and medical supply businesses not to increase masks prices,” said the DED in a tweet on Thursday morning.

“DED resolved a business complaint by obligating a pharmacy to supply masks with its original price,” added another tweet from the department.

Online stores have started selling N-95 protective masks, which cost between Dh150 to Dh180 (for a box of 20), for up to Dh599 (per piece).

Complaints can be registered at the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Sector in Dubai Economy by calling them.