European stocks tumble as virus fears mount

Bloomberg | Updated on February 24, 2020 Published on February 24, 2020

European stocks and U.S. equity futures tumbled on Monday and havens surged as the increase in coronavirus cases outside of China roiled risk assets. The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell to the lowest since 2016.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid at the open, dragged lower by miners and automakers. Contracts on the three main American equities gauges all sank, after finance chiefs and central bankers from the largest economies said this weekend that they saw the virus bringing downside risks to global growth. In Asia, shares in Seoul saw the brunt of losses, down 3.9%, with Hong Kong, Sydney and Shanghai also declining. Japan is shut for a holiday.

Italy’s sovereign bonds dropped as the country became Europe’s epicenter for virus cases over the weekend. Brent crude oil tumbled 3%.

Risk appetite is flagging as the coronavirus spreads further outside China, raising concerns about the prospect of a global pandemic. Last week’s flight to safe assets is carrying over into this week as South Korea on Monday reported infections jumped by 161 to 763, and Italy locked down an area of 50,000 people near Milan.

“While the coronavirus is probably slowing in China, it is speeding up elsewhere,” said Charles Gillams, managing director at RJMG Asset Management Ltd. “Its impact on Chinese business is already deep. So, whether that has a one economic quarter impact -- of some severity -- or is a bigger issue remains unclear and indeed we won’t know for while.”

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Published on February 24, 2020
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