Hong Kong and most Asia-Pacific stock markets declined Wednesday, as caution drove sentiment after the daily coronavirus death tolls in the US and UK reached their highest levels. Investors have faced a barrage of coronavirus data, charts and predictions to sort through each day in trying to determine the direction of highly volatile global markets. More than half of the planet’s population is under lockdown, and governments and central banks have thrown massive fiscal and monetary stimulus at the virus, which has dragged the world into a recession. China, after reporting no virus-related deaths Tuesday for the first time since January, said on Wednesday morning that two people have since died. Meanwhile, the US has the most cases in the world and most of its states are under lockdown. However, President Donald Trump’s economic adviser told Fox News on Tuesday that the Trump “would like to reopen the economy as soon as he can,” possibly in a few weeks. New York, the epicentre of the outbreak in the US, saw its highest daily death toll of 731, as did the entire US, with 1,970 people dying on Tuesday. In the UK, 786 people died on Tuesday. Worldwide about 82,000 people have died, while 1.4 million people have been infected. ‘After-the-virus’ stocks at cheap prices screaming ‘buy,’ analysts say “Trying to factor in the mix of epidemiology, psychology, and politics is troubling,” said Stephen Innes, chief global strategist at AxiCorp. “And while we know economic data is missing or poor quality, but if the Covid-19 data proves to be unreliable, then we will be in a world of hurt afloat in a sea of red in a rudderless ship, especially with investors trading on sentiment rather than the economics for now,” he said. The Hang Seng Index posted a 1.2 per cent loss, ending a back-to-back winning streak that was its first in nearly two weeks. HSBC lost its earlier steam, closing down 0.6 per cent. It had gained the previous two sessions following its tumble last week when it cancelled dividends. Markets fall prey to ‘infodemic’ as technology fuels herd mentality China stocks declined as well, with the Shanghai Composite Index slipping 0.2 per cent. (For in-depth coverage of the Hong Kong and mainland markets, see the Stocks Blog .) China, where the coronavirus pandemic was first reported, will lead the way out of the global economic downturn after taking extraordinary measures to contain the outbreak, said Wenli Zheng, portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price. Meanwhile, oil futures in New York gained, as investors bet Saudi Arabia and Russia can agree to reduce output. The two oil producers set off a price war amid the coronavirus outbreak, which had already significantly weakened demand. A virtual meeting of OPEC and some other oil producers is slated for Thursday. “A lot of good news has been built into asset markets this week on the most tenuous signs that the outbreak is peaking. Should that be proved premature, the correction … could be very ugly indeed,” Jeffrey Halley, Asia-Pacific senior market analyst at OANDA, wrote in a note. Investors “should not mistake a bear market rally for the start of a V-shaped recovery. The best we can hope for is a U, with a W in a close second place,” Halley wrote. Five questions every stock investor should ask about the coronavirus Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan was a stand-out, seeing gains as its government launches new approaches to deal with the coronavirus. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures – accounting for about 44 per cent of Japan’s population – to contain the coronavirus. The government also approved a record near-US$1 trillion stimulus package for families and business. That is equivalent to 20 per cent of Japan’s GDP. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed ahead 2.1 per cent, building on its 2 per cent rise on Tuesday. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.9 per cent. It gained 1.8 per cent on Tuesday. On Monday, the benchmark surged 3.9 per cent, technically entering a bull market as it closed 23 per cent above its March 19 low. The country’s tech-heavy Kosdaq inched up 0.1 per cent, after advancing 1.6 per cent on Tuesday. Australia’s ASX 200 slipped 0.9 per cent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX50 gained 2.3 per cent. Meanwhile, Singapore’s Straits Times Index closed down 1.4 per cent. Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.