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(Bloomberg) — U.S. equities declined on Thursday alongside European stocks as officials in China deployed a revised methodology to diagnose the coronavirus, sending the number of confirmed cases soaring.
The Index opened lower, a day after hitting fresh records, as the jump in infections undercut optimism the spread of the virus was slowing. Treasuries trimmed an earlier gain after a mixed reading of American consumer prices.
“The sudden sharp re-acceleration in new coronavirus infections in China has investors reassessing risk,” said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell. “Given the inherent uncertainty of this macro risk, we believe a focus on the bottom line can be helpful. While China and travel-focused companies are obviously most vulnerable, as long as the economic impact on the U.S. economy remains modest, expect U.S. equities to maintain their relative immunity to the virus.”
The Index was on pace for its biggest drop this month. The euro traded near the lowest since 2017, while the U.K. pound gained and gilts retreated after Sajid Javid quit as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The also declined.
Investor sentiment had improved in recent sessions amid speculation the impact from the coronavirus outbreak on global growth would be short-lived. That assumption was thrown into doubt when Hubei, the province at the center of the epidemic, reported almost 15,000 new cases after it revised its data to include “clinically diagnosed” cases in its daily disclosure.
In company news, Tesla (NASDAQ:) Inc. shares fell after the carmaker announced plans to offer about $2 billion of common stock. Alibaba (NYSE:) Group Holding Ltd. fell after warning that its revenue growth will be negatively impacted in the March quarter. Barclays (LON:) Plc slipped as the bank revealed British regulators are probing Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley’s relationship with financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Elsewhere, stock gauges in Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Korea all declined, though shares in Australia edged higher. Oil continued Wednesday’s surge even as the International Energy Agency said the coronavirus means global demand will drop this quarter for the first time in over a decade.
Here are some key events coming up:
- China and the U.S. on Friday are scheduled to lower tariffs on billions of dollars of respective imports as part of the trade deal signed last month.
These are the main moves in markets:
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