Pharmaceutical stocks spike after China reports new coronavirus cases

Posted January 19, 2020 10:22 p.m. EST

— Chinese pharmaceutical stocks skyrocketed Monday as China reported more than 100 new cases of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus.

Jiangsu Bioperfectus Technologies, a company that recently said it has created a drug testing kit that could allow hospitals to better detect the virus, jumped by 20% on the Star Market. That's the maximum allowed on that board, which was launched in Shanghai last year.

On the Shanghai Stock Exchange, two companies — Jiangsu Lianhuan Pharmaceutical and Shandong Lukang Pharmaceutical — both spiked 10% in trading on Monday.

Tianjin Teda, which makes masks that are often used to protect against the the transmission of illnesses, surged nearly 9% in Shenzhen.

China has reported 139 new cases of the sickness, including a third death. The outbreak is spreading beyond Wuhan, the city in central China where it was first identified in December: Two cases have been reported in Thailand, and one has been reported in Japan. All cases have been linked to Wuhan.

More broadly, stocks were mostly higher in Asia. South Korea's Kospi rose 1%, while the Shanghai Composite Index and Japan's Nikkei 225 edged up 0.3%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, though, dropped 0.3%.

Here are a few other talking points in Asia at 11:15 a.m. Hong Kong time:

The People's Bank of China kept its one-year loan prime rate (LPR) unchanged at 4.15% on Monday. The five-year LPR also remained steady at 4.8%. The LPR, which banks charge corporate clients for new loans, is a new benchmark that China introduced in August. It hopes the rate will gradually replace the existing fixed benchmark lending rate, and do a better job in passing on lower rates to borrowers in the corporate sector.

One of China's largest insurers on Sunday forecast that its annual net profit might have increased by as much as $7 billion — a 420% increase. China Life Insurance said in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it benefited from strong investment returns and from favorable tax policies. The company's stock jumped 1.8% and 3.3% in Hong Kong and Shanghai, respectively.

— CNN's Nectar Gan contributed to this report.

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