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Taiwan stock index plunges amid worsening COVID outbreak

Market volatility ahead as country prepares for highest level restrictions

A monitor showing fluctuating prices of Taiwan's Stock Exchange.

A monitor showing fluctuating prices of Taiwan's Stock Exchange. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s stock market dropped 660 points on Monday (May 17) before recovering some ground to finish down 2.99 percent as the country scrambled to contain a fresh surge in coronavirus cases.

Tightened COVID-19 restrictions introduced over the weekend sent the stock market plunging before picking up slightly, but the announcement by Taipei and New Taipei to close primary and secondary schools for two weeks triggered panic selling in the afternoon session. The Taiex closed lower at 15353.89 points.

It follows the benchmark index’s third-largest drop in history on May 12, when the stock market slid 8.55 percent at one point. Market analysts cautioned volatility can be expected as Greater Taipei could be braced for a Level 4 alert, the highest alert and which amounts to a lockdown, according to CNA.

The sharpest drops were led by iron and steel as well as maritime transportation stocks, which both lost 8 percent. Tourism, textiles, the financial sector, and electronics skidded 6 percent, 5 percent, 3.91 percent, and 2.24 percent, respectively.

Taiwan added 333 domestic cases on Monday, setting yet another daily record, bringing the total to 2,017. Non-resident foreigners will be banned from entry starting May 19 as the country’s medical system has come under strain.