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Chinese markets tumble on coronavirus fears

Investors look at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China, March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – S1AETJYOONAA

SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Chinese stock and commodity markets fell heavily at the open on Monday, in the first trading session after an extended Lunar New Year break, as investors dumped risky assets in response to rising fears about the spread of a new virus across China.

The Shanghai Composite index .SSEC opened down 8% at its lowest level since February 2019. If the losses are sustained, it would be the biggest daily drop since 2015.

The yuan opened at its weakest level this year in onshore trade CNY=.

Shanghai traded commodities also plunged, catching up with global drops. Shanghai crude oil ISCCv1, Dalian iron ore DCIOCv1 and Shanghai copper SCFCv1 all fell by their daily down limits.

The death toll from the new coronavirus in China’s Hubei province rose by 56 to 350 on Monday, Chinese state television reported.

Reporting by Sam Shen in Shanghai, Mai Ngyuen in Hanoi, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Richard Pullin

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