Taiwan stocks slumped the most in 10 months, led by airlines, after the U.S. released weaker-than-estimated jobs data and China reported more infections from a deadly bird influenza.
The Taiex Index dropped 2.1 percent to 7,773.01 as of 10:05 a.m. in Taipei, heading for its biggest decline since June 4 and falling the most among Asian markets. Shares of the island’s carriers slumped on concern bird flu will curb travel demand. China Airlines Ltd. tumbled 6.4 percent, the most since December 2011, while EVA Airways Corp. lost 6.8 percent.
China reported three more cases of the deadly H7N9 strain, bringing the total number of infections to 21. The virus has already killed six people. Taiwan’s markets resumed trading after being closed on April 4-5 for the holidays. The MSCI Emerging-Markets Index fell 1.7 percent during the period.
“China’s bird flu is having a big psychological impact on investors as Taiwan now has much closer contacts with the mainland,” Albert King, chief investment officer at Prophet Capital Inc. in Taipei, said by phone. “The region of eastern China, where the bird flu has broken out, has the closest business contacts with Taiwan.”
China, including Hong Kong, accounts for 40 percent of the island’s exports, while the U.S. takes up 10 percent. Data from the Labor Department on April 5 showed employers added less than half the number of jobs economists forecast in March.
Health-care stocks jumped on speculation bird flu will boost demand for drugs. Chunghwa Chemical Synthesis & Biotech Co. surged 6.9 percent to NY$56. Mao Bao Inc., a manufacturer of cleaning products, advanced 7 percent to NT$16.85.