Stocks slide on Apple’s virus warning, euro near three-year low

China reported its lowest daily death toll in a week, but WHO says the data should be viewed with caution.

An employee wearing a protective mask takes the temperature of a customer at an entrance to an Apple store in Shanghai as the Chinese government says it is entering 'Most Critical Time' in fighting the coronavirus [File: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]
An employee wearing a protective mask takes the temperature of a customer at an entrance to an Apple store in Shanghai as the Chinese government says it is entering 'Most Critical Time' in fighting the coronavirus [File: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]

The coronavirus could sicken the global economy. After Apple Inc said it was unlikely to meet its sales guidance because of the coronavirus outbreak in China, oil prices tumbled, and global equity markets slid on Tuesday. The market downturn highlights the epidemic’s threat to global growth and corporate profits.

China reported its fewest new coronavirus infections since January and its lowest daily death toll in a week, but the World Health Organization said data suggesting the epidemic had slowed should be viewed with caution.

Apple said on Monday that manufacturing facilities in China that produce its iPhone and other electronics had begun to reopen, but were ramping up more slowly than expected.

The disruption in China will result in fewer iPhones available for sale around the world, making Apple one of the largest Western firms to be hurt by the outbreak.

Gold climbed more than 1 percent to a two-week high as investors sought safety in the wake of Apple’s warning, and the price of Brent, the global crude benchmark, fell below $57 a barrel.

Forecasters, including the International Energy Agency, have cut 2020 oil demand estimates because of the virus.

Equity markets around the world fell, with MSCI’s all-country world index slipping 0.72 percent.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.38 percent, and emerging market stocks lost 1.28 percent.

HSBC Holdings PLC’s announcement that it would shed $100bn in assets, shrink its investment bank and revamp its US and European businesses in a drastic overhaul added to concerns about the impact of the coronavirus.

The UK-based bank, whose vast Asian operations headquarters are in Hong Kong, said the coronavirus epidemic had significantly impacted staff and customers. HSBC shares fell 6.35 percent, leading the FTSE 100 index to close down 0.69 percent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 252.29 points, or 0.86 percent, to 29,145.79, the S&P 500 lost 21.49 points, or 0.64 percent, to 3,358.67 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 45.93 points, or 0.47 percent, to 9,685.25.

“We’re seeing some renewed weakness in the stock markets following the announcement by Apple,” said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen. “It’s having a global impact on supply chains and shipments – this will have a negative impact on growth expectations.”

Overnight in Asia, China’s CSI300 blue-chip stocks index lost 0.5 percent after gaining sharply on Monday, encouraged by a central bank rate cut and government stimulus hopes.

Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.40 percent.

The dollar rose to nearly a three-week high against the euro after Germany’s ZEW survey of economic sentiment showed slumping investor confidence in Europe’s largest economy.

The euro was down 0.2 percent to $1.0812, while the dollar index rose 0.3 percent. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.03 percent versus the greenback at 109.85 per dollar.

The ZEW research institute said in its monthly survey that investors’ mood deteriorated far more than expected in February on worries the coronavirus would crimp world trade.

The survey added to expectations the German economy will lose more momentum in the first half as slumping exports keep manufacturers mired in a recession.

Safe-haven German 10-year bond yields fell to -0.43 percent at one point. Other 10-year bond yields in Europe fell similarly.

US Treasury yields also fell. The benchmark 10-year note rose 12/32 in price, pushing its yield down to 1.5474 percent.

The slide in oil prices was pressured by concerns over the impact on crude demand from the coronavirus outbreak in China and a lack of further action by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies to support the market.

Brent crude fell 74 cents to $56.93 a barrel after rallying in the previous five sessions. US West, Texas Intermediate crude, fell 53 cents to $51.52 a barrel.

Spot gold added 1.4 percent to $1,602.25 an ounce.

Source : Reuters

More from Economy
Most Read