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Global Stocks Drop Amid Outbreak of Deadly Virus in China

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01/21/2020 | 05:28am EST

By Avantika Chilkoti and Steven Russolillo

Global stocks dropped on Tuesday, led by Asian markets, amid concerns about the rapid spread of a potentially deadly pneumonialike virus originating in central China.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 0.3% after the public holiday on Monday. The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped 0.7%. The Shanghai Composite closed 1.4% lower in its biggest drop in over two months, while the Chinese yuan lost almost 0.6% against the dollar in offshore trading.

The newly identified virus has spread between humans, a leading Chinese health official said, fueling concerns that the disease could quickly be transmitted across Asia as millions of Chinese travel for the annual Lunar New Year holiday. The virus has already claimed four lives as the number of confirmed cases tripled on Monday. A similar coronavirus led to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in late 2002 in southern China, killing 774 people.

"The economic consequences could be extremely concerning," said Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for the Asia-Pacific region at IHS Markit. "China's international tourism has boomed, so the risks of a global SARS-like virus epidemic spreading globally have become even more severe."

Shares of airlines, cinemas and restaurant operators were the biggest losers in the Chinese market as investors tried to decipher the impact of the disease in the region. Japan's Nikkei 225 benchmark also fell 0.9%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng benchmark was the worst performer among major Asian benchmarks, closing down 2.8% in its biggest decline in over five months. Adding to the gloom in Hong Kong, Moody's Investors Service downgraded the city's credit rating. The ratings firm blamed the government for failing to properly deal with seven months of social unrest, which has driven the economy into recession.

Among European equities, major market moves were driven by corporate results. EasyJet gained 5.4% after the budget airline posted higher-than-expected revenue for the fiscal first quarter and boosted its forecast for revenue per seat for the first half of the year.

Hugo Boss ticked up 3.4% after the German fashion house's sales in the fourth quarter exceeded analysts' expectations, buoyed by momentum in Europe and China.

Among the biggest losers was UBS Group, which retreated over 5% after the Swiss banking giant missed its key 2019 targets and cut guidance.

Later in the day, a string of U.S. companies are scheduled to report earnings including Netflix and International Business Machines Corp.

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP -0.32% 2975.4 End-of-day quote.-2.97%
DJ INDUSTRIAL 0.40% 29348.03 Delayed Quote.3.01%
EASYJET 0.90% 1505.5 Delayed Quote.4.74%
HANG SENG 0.36% 27646.04 Real-time Quote.-2.28%
HUGO BOSS 0.81% 43.51 Delayed Quote.-0.23%
IHS MARKIT LTD. 1.02% 81.11 Delayed Quote.6.56%
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION -0.16% 150.86 Delayed Quote.12.73%
NASDAQ 100 0.92% 9718.726468 Delayed Quote.10.20%
NASDAQ COMP. 0.87% 9817.179518 Delayed Quote.8.45%
NETFLIX, INC. -0.41% 386.19 Delayed Quote.17.56%
NIKKEI 225 0.89% 23400.7 Real-time Quote.0.13%
S&P 500 0.47% 3386.15 Delayed Quote.4.32%
S&P/CITIC 300 INDEX 0.00% 3533.58 Delayed Quote.-0.32%
S&P/CITIC 50 INDEX 0.00% 3586.5 Delayed Quote.-4.11%
STOXX EUROPE 600 0.83% 433.9 Delayed Quote.3.53%
STOXX EUROPE 600 NR 0.83% 937.68 Delayed Quote.3.66%
UBS GROUP -0.12% 12.91 Delayed Quote.6.05%
UNITED STATES DOLLAR (B) / CHINESE YUAN IN HONG KONG (USD/CNH) 0.00% 7.0093 Delayed Quote.0.64%
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