Mumbai: Indian equities may extend gains on Thursday in line with global peers. Asian stocks edged up in early deals on Thursday, supported by a fall in new coronavirus cases and expectation of more Chinese stimulus to offset the economic fallout of the epidemic.

Safe-haven Japanese yen nursed heavy losses after suffering its steepest drop in six months.

China’s Hubei, the epicentre of the virus outbreak, reported 349 new cases on Thursday, the lowest since 25 January, although it was accompanied by a change in diagnosis rules.

Adding to a slew of fiscal and monetary measures in recent weeks aimed at cushioning the virus’ impact on the economy, China's central bank is widely expected to cut its benchmark lending rate today.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked up 0.1%. Buoyed by the cheaper yen, Japan’s Nikkei rallied 1.5%. Markets in Australia and New Zealand minted record highs.

The prospect of central bank support and easier money also underpinned bonds, with US Treasury yields steady, and the benchmark 10-year yield last at 1.5815%.

More than 2,100 people in China have died from the coronavirus which has spread to more than two dozen countries, with governments around the world are trying to prevent it from becoming a global pandemic.

Back home, top bosses of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd reached out to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, as a massive payments crisis loomed over the two telcos that together serve more than 580 million customers in India.

State Bank of India (SBI) has approved a restructuring plan proposed by Suzlon Energy Ltd as a first step towards saving the stressed wind power firm, according to two bankers familiar with the matter. Under the plan, Suzlon’s debt of 12,700 crore will be converted into sustainable and unsustainable debt and will be repaid over 20 years.

Meanwhile, the most dramatic move overnight was a steep drop in the Japanese yen, which posted its sharpest fall against the dollar in half a year, even as safe-haven assets such as gold traded firm. Selling was broad and sustained through the session.

The yen fell nearly 1.4% against the dollar and the kiwi and almost 2% against the Norwegian krone - its sharpest daily drop against the krone in almost three years.

The yen recouped some of those losses in early trade today, to rise 0.2% to 111.17 per dollar. Elsewhere oil prices held overnight gains, while gold gave some of its rise back.

US crude was last 30 cents firmer at $53.60 per barrel and Brent settled at $59.12. Gold last traded at $1,609.33 per ounce.

(Reuters contributed to the story)

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