Asian Shares Reverse Gains Thursday 01/23 05:58
World shares fell back Thursday as health authorities around the world
rushed to monitor and contain a deadly virus outbreak in China and keep it from
BANGKOK (AP) -- World shares fell back Thursday as health authorities around
the world rushed to monitor and contain a deadly virus outbreak in China and
keep it from spreading globally.
China and other nations have ramped up screenings for fever on aircraft and
at airports. The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is
concentrated, closed down its train station and airport Thursday to prevent
people from entering or leaving the city. Adding to concerns, the outbreak
coincides with the annual travel of hundreds of millions of Chinese for the
Lunar New Year festival, which begins Friday.
In early European trading, the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.3% to 5,995.49 while
Germany's DAX slipped 0.7% to 13,427.91. Britain's FTSE 100 gave up 0.2% to
7,559.27. Wall Street futures edged lower, with the contract for the S&P 500
down 1.8 points and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.1%.
In Asia, early gains were erased midsession, with Chinese benchmarks leading
The coronavirus has been confirmed in five countries, including China, the
U.S., Thailand, Japan and South Korea. So far, China has confirmed more than
500 people have fallen sick and 17 have died from the illness, which can cause
pneumonia and other severe respiratory symptoms.
A World Health Organization committee was scheduled to meet for a second day
Thursday as it decides whether to declare China's virus outbreak a global
Japan's Nikkei 225 index skidded 1% to 23,795.44, while the Kospi in South
Korea sank 0.9% to 2,246.13. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng dropped 1.5% to
27,909.12, while the Shanghai Composite index declined 2.8% to 2,976.53.
Australia's S&P ASX/200 shed 0.6% to 7,088.00. Shares rose in India and Jakarta
but fell in Taiwan and Singapore.
"As far as the market is concerned, the current reaction remains mild and
perhaps rightly so given the difficulty to estimate the impact of an evolving
syndrome," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. By postponing a decision on
whether the virus is a global health emergency, the WHO helped assuage some
fears the crisis is escalating, she said.
In other news, Japan reported Thursday that its trade balance was negative
in 2019 for a second straight year, as China-U.S. trade tensions and friction
with neighboring South Korea bit into exports.
Overnight, technology companies led stocks to a flat close on Wall Street,
erasing early gains. But that was an improvement over Tuesday, when investors
dumped shares on fears the virus outbreak might spread, hurting tourism and
ultimately economic growth and corporate profits.
While only about 10% of S&P 500 companies have reported their results for
the last three months of 2019, early indications are encouraging. Of those
companies that have reported results, 78.4% topped analysts' forecasts for
profits, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Those forecasts were low, to be sure, with analysts saying S&P 500 profits
fell last quarter for the fourth consecutive time, according to FactSet.
Benchmark crude oil fell 84 cents to $55.61 per barrel in electronic trading
on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.64 to settle at $56.74 a barrel
on Wednesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gave up 77 cents to
$62.13 per barrel. It slid $1.38 to close at $63.21 a barrel overnight.
Gold fell $2.60 to $1,553.60 per ounce, silver lost 15 cents to $17.68 per
ounce and copper fell 3 cents to $2.77 per pound.
The dollar fell to 109.53 Japanese yen from 109.83 yen on Wednesday. The
euro weakened to $1.1085 from $1.1097.