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Stock market dives to bear territory on Covid-19 jitters

Jitters over the Covid-19 outbreak on Monday, March 9, 2020 sent the Philippine stock market crashing, with the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) posting the worst single-day fall since 2008 and leading the losses among stock markets in Asia.

The PSE said the index shed 457.77 points or 6.76%, closing at 6,312.61. The PSEi is composed of the 30 largest and most active companies on the market. Volume turnover was 1.15 billion shares valued at P6.3 billion.

With this decline, the market officially entered bear market territory. A bear market is characterized by stocks prices falling by at least 20%.

The index dived by about 25% from a high of 8,419.59, sinking to a 52-week low on Monday, a day after the Department of Health confirmed four new cases of Covid-19 that brought the total number of infected persons in the Philippines to 10.

While the market was experiencing a bloodbath, health authorities further announced 10 more Covid-19 cases, doubling the tally to 20. A few hours later, President Rodrigo Duterte announced 4 more cases, or a total of 24 Covid-19 cases.

Covid-19 is the contagious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. As of March 9, the World Health Organization said there were 109,577 confirmed cases in China and 104 other countries. Almost 4,000 have died from the disease.

Market jitters over Covid-19 caused the PSEi to breach the 7,000 support level on February 26, 2020, as it closed at 6,909.84.

Elsewhere in Asia, it was also a bloodbath, with Singapore also sinking by 6.03%, Sensex of Mumbai, India falling by 5.1%, Nikkei 225 of Japan dropping by 5.07%, Hang Seng of Hong Kong down by 4.23%, and Shanghai in China declining by 3.01%.

In the US, the Dow led the losses as it dived by 7.79%, followed by the S&P 500 which sank by 7.6% and the Nasdaq while fell by 7.29%.

The Philippines is now under a State of Public Health Emergency, as declared by President Duterte in Proclamation No. 922 on March 8, 2020 following the confirmation of local transmission.

This declaration would give health officials the authority to ask the police to help implement measures aimed at preventing the further spread of the disease through intensified contact tracing and mandatory reporting and quarantine.

This would also open access to funds needed to fight the disease and require all local government units and government agencies to assist and coordinate with the DOH.

The health sector has been placed on Code Red sub-level 1 alert to prepare to respond to possible increase in number of cases, intensify contact tracing, expand surveillance, strengthen testing capacity and activate subnational laboratories, strictly enforce home quarantine, and prepare for possible community transmission. (Ventures Cebu)

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