Renewed coronavirus fears send world markets plummeting

The effervescent trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) (Photo: Britannica)

Stock markets around the world slipped on Friday (Feb. 21), following a rise in new cases in several countries made investors antsy about the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Already faced with a tumultuous week of gains and losses, benchmarks in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney closed down and London, Frankfurt and other European indexes were trading lower. Wall Street futures was also expected to dip on the open.

As reported earlier, markets had been on the mend, as hopes the outbreak was closer to being under control initially cushioned the crisis. The Chinese government effectively down much of its economy – the second largest in the world.

Sentiment was buoyed by stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data and rate cuts by China and other Asian central banks to blunt the economic impact.

However, investors were less-than-amused by reports of 52 new cases of the coronavirus in South Korea, raising its total to 156, most of them since Wednesday.

That renewed concern the infection is spreading in South Korea, Singapore and other Asian economies. New cases were also recorded further afield, from Italy to Iran.

In Europe, Frankfurt’s DAX lost 0.1% to 13,656 while the FTSE 100 in London sank 0.2% to 7,422. France’s CAC 40 plummeted 0.1% to 6,054.

On Wall Street, the futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and for the Dow Jones Industrial Average both lost 0.3%.

In Asia, Seoul’s Kospi lost 1.5% to 2,162.84 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.4% to 23,386.74. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng sank 1.1% to 27,308.81.

The Shanghai Composite Index defied the downward regional trend, climbing 0.3% to 3,039.67.

The S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney lost 0.3% to 7,139.00. New Zealand advanced while Southeast Asian markets declined.

A measure of Japan’s manufacturing activity tumbled to an eight-year low and a companion gauge of service industries dropped even more sharply.

Arguably the hardest-hit sector, the airline industry association estimated that the virus outbreak will cost some US$29 billion in revenue.