As China’s deadly coronavirus spreads, the world’s financial markets reel

January 27, 2020, 12:35 PM UTC

Intensifying concern about the economic and human impact of the deadly coronavirus sent stocks, oil and China’s yuan tumbling Monday while spurring haven assets. Treasuries gained and Italian bonds jumped after regional elections.

Contracts on the main U.S. equity benchmarks fell, signaling a weak open on Wall Street following Friday’s losses. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index headed for its worst decline since October, with the mining group dropping by 4%. Ten-year Treasury yields and West Texas crude futures fell to three- and five-month lows, respectively. A key measure of risk for the debt of Europe’s most fragile companies jumped to the highest in nearly two months.

Major Asian markets were closed for holidays with the exception of those in India and Japan, where stocks slumped and the yen climbed. A London-listed iShares China ETF dropped more than 7%. The offshore yuan erased this month’s trade-deal-driven gains in the wake of news that the virus continues to spread, with no peak in sight.

Fears around the virus, whose death toll has risen to at least 80, is spurring caution at the start of a week jam-packed with earnings and other events. Tech giants Apple, Facebook and Samsung are among those due to report this week. Investors will also have a Federal Reserve policy meeting and Mark Carney’s last monetary policy decision as the Bank of England’s governor to monitor.

“Any economic shock to China’s colossal industrial and consumption engines will spread rapidly to other countries through the increased trade and financial linkages associated with globalization,” Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at Axitrader, wrote in a note Monday. “I’m starting to think cash is the right place to be for the next few weeks.”

China announced an extension of its Lunar New Year holiday through Feb. 2 to help battle the spread of the disease. Beijing also suspended sales of package tours, hitting firms around the world that rely on Chinese travelers’ spending. Air transport providers were the worst performers in Japan’s session, while Thailand’s stocks slid the most since 2016.

Elsewhere, copper, aluminum, nickel and iron ore all dropped.

Here are some events to watch out for this week:

  • Tech giants Apple, SAP, Facebook, Samsung and South Korean chip maker SK Hynix announce earnings, as do Boeing, International Paper, GE, United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, Unilever, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Chevron.
  • The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump continues in Washington Monday.
  • Fed policy makers are expected to open 2020 the same way they closed 2019 — by holding interest rates steady Wednesday.
  • The BOE meeting is highly anticipated Thursday after a series of dovish comments raised speculation policy makers could lower interest rates.
  • The U.S. reports fourth-quarter GDP Thursday.
  • The U.K. is scheduled to leave the European Union Friday.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • Futures on the S&P 500 Index sank 1.4% as of 6:39 a.m. New York time.
  • Nasdaq 100 Index futures declined 1.8%.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 1.9%.
  • Japan’s Topix index dropped 1.6%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gained 0.1%.
  • The British pound increased 0.1%.
  • The euro was little changed at $1.1024.
  • The Japanese yen strengthened 0.3% to 108.91 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan weakened 0.8% to 6.983 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined seven basis points to 1.62%.
  • Germany’s 10-year yield decreased three basis points to -0.37%.
  • Italy’s 10-year yield decreased 18 basis points to 1.051%.

Commodities

  • The Bloomberg Commodity Index dipped 1.1% to 76.46.
  • Gold strengthened 0.8% to $1,584.07 an ounce.
  • Iron ore sank 6.4% to $85.21 per metric ton.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude fell 3.1% to $52.53 a barrel.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

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As China's deadly coronavirus spreads, world financial markets reel