Stock markets weighed down by virus fears


20th February, 2020 08:59:49 printer

Stock markets weighed down by virus fears

Coronavirus fears weighed on global stock markets Thursday as investors took profits despite China reporting a big drop in new cases and easing borrowing costs to cushion the epidemic's economic impact.

Traders have been betting on central banks doing what it takes to keep their economies chugging along as the new coronavirus hits corporate earnings and economic growth.

"Coronavirus uneasiness is lingering as cases continue to spread beyond China, though China did report more stimulus measures and some favourable economic data," said analysts at the Charles Schwab brokerage.

The People's Bank of China (PBoC) lowered its one-year and five-year loan prime rates, but the moves were "not nearly enough", said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp.

"The PBoC needs to exceed the market expectations, not hit them in this environment," he said.

The bank's actions still helped the Shanghai stock market reach a 1.8 percent closing gain.

In the best-case scenario, the economic hit from the epidemic in China will be short-lived, but it comes as the global economy remains fragile, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said Wednesday.

Wall Street ran into profit-taking after record highs on Wednesday, while European stock markets were also mildly lower.

London, however, managed small gains as a weakening pound gave a fillip to stock prices in the export sector.

Air France-KLM shares plunged nearly three percent after the airline reported that the coronavirus had blown a large hole in 2020 earnings to date while separately unveiling lower profits for 2019.

Oil prices rebounded as hopes spread that the impact of the virus on economic growth, and therefore crude demand, will be limited.

But gold, a popular safe-haven investment, continued firm after reaching a seven-year high on Wednesday.

- Key figures around 1435 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,464.50 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 13,748.89

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 6,096.97

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,849.52

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent to 29,301.16

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 23,479.15 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.8 percent at 3,030.15 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 27,609.16 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0815 from $1.0805 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2861 from $1.2920

Euro/pound: UP at 84.05 pence from 83.63

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.10 from 111.37

Brent Crude: UP 0.6 percent at $59.48 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.1 percent at $54.07