Stocks drop again after virus declared global emergency


Stock markets turned lower again on Friday after world health authorities declared the virus pandemic that has spread from China to more than a dozen countries a global emergency.

Germany’s DAX fell 0.3% to 13,116 and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.4% to 5,848 after new figures showed the country’s economy shrank 0.1% in the fourth quarter. U.S. futures augured a slow start, with the S&P 500 dropping 0.3% and the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 0.4%.

Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.7% to 7,334 as the midnight departure of the U.K. from the European Union loomed. While Britain will remain in a transition period that ensures no abrupt changes to business, the moment kicks off a round of trade negotiations with the EU.

For much of the world, the main focus was on the ripple effects of the outbreak of a virus first found in central China that has killed at least 213 and sickened nearly 9,700.

Shares were mostly lower in Asia after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic a global emergency. Markets in mainland China remained closed as the U.S. warned against all travel to China.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 1% to 23,205.18, while the S&P ASX/200 edged 0.1% higher to 7,017.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5%, to 26,312.63, while the Sensex in India edged 0.1% higher to 40,939.19. Taiwan’s benchmark picked up 0.6%, while South Korea’s Kospi skidded 1.4% to 2,119.01.

Overall, stocks have given up some ground after a strong start to the year amid uncertainty over the virus outbreak. Still, the major U.S. indexes remain on track to end January with gains.

The WHO’s move to declare the outbreak a global emergency Thursday came after the number of cases spiked tenfold in a week. The declaration means the WHO sees the virus as a risk to other countries that requires an international response.

Benchmark crude oil rose 41 cents to $52.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.19 to settle at $52.14 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, picked up 27 cents to $57.60 per barrel. It dropped $1.58 to close at $58.33 a barrel overnight.

The dollar was flat around 108.95 Japanese yen. The euro rose to $1.1047 from $1.1033.