** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index edged down 0.3% to 3,029.22 points, while the blue-chip CSI300 index <.CSI300> fell 0.5%.
** CSI300's financial sector sub-index <.CSI300FS> lost 0.8%, the consumer staples sector <.CSI000912> dropped 1.5% and real estate shares <.CSI000952> slid 1.8%. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong lost 1.8% and the Hang Seng fell 1.5% to 26,903.84. ** The smaller Shenzhen index gained 0.9% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was up almost 1%. The start-up index is up 25.1% so far this year, benefiting more from lowering financing costs and policy loosening.
** Investor confidence took a hit after South Korea put the country on high alert as the number of infections jumped to over 700 and deaths rose to seven. In Italy, the number of cases jumped to above 150 from just three before Friday.
** Iran, which announced its first infections last week, said it had confirmed 43 cases and eight deaths. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan imposed travel and immigration restrictions on the Islamic Republic.
** Sentiment was hurt as the coronavirus outbreak spread outside China, said Linus Yip, analyst with First Shanghai Securities. U.S. and China stock markets giving up some of their recent strong gains could also add pressure on the Hong Kong market.
** Losses were capped in mainland equities as Beijing vowed more support to underpin the economy and as China witnessed fewer new coronavirus cases.
** China will step up policy adjustments to help cushion the blow to the economy from the coronavirus outbreak that authorities are still trying to control, President Xi Jinping was quoted as saying on Sunday.
** China's central bank will take further steps to support the virus-hit economy, including releasing more liquidity and lowering funding costs for companies, a vice governor of the bank told state media.
** Liquidity and policy easing are behind the strong rally in China's start-up companies, the fundamentals of which are not currently justified, said Song Jin, an analyst with Nomura Orient International Securities.
** Mainland China had 409 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said on Monday, down from 648 reported a day earlier.** Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index <.MIAPJ0000PUS> lost 1.9%, while Japan's Nikkei index <.N225> was down 0.4%. ** The yuan <CNY=CFXS> was 0.08% weaker at 7.0320 per U.S. dollar, as of 0355 GMT. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index was down 0.7%, while the CSI300 index was trading 0.8% firmer. Shanghai stocks gained 1.8% so far this month.
(Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Noah Sin, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)