U.S. Stock Futures Slide as Virus Concern Grows: Markets Wrap…

by on 24 February 2020

U.S. equity futures sank with Asian shares and gold surged after the number of coronavirus cases outside of China increased and concern grew that global economic growth could take a more sustained hit.

S&P 500 Index futures fell about 1.3%, with shares in Seoul and Sydney also lower. Australian bonds climbed with Treasury futures. Over the weekend, finance chiefs and central bankers from the world’s largest economies said they see downside risks to the global economy persisting as supply chains get disrupted from the deadly virus. The Australian dollar retreated along with the offshore yuan. Crude oil tumbled more than 2%. Japan is shut for a holiday.

Investor sentiment is being knocked as South Korea saw a 20-fold increase in virus cases in five days and Italy canceled some public events after coronavirus infections rose to 140. Treasury yields last week reached fresh lows and the recent retreat in global equities continues to show the defensive stance being adopted as new virus cases outside China lift anxiety levels.

“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.”

Meantime, investors will also be scrutinizing new pledges of support in China amid signs some workers are returning to work. President Xi Jinping said authorities will step up policy adjustments to achieve the nation’s economic and social goals while fighting the virus outbreak.

These are some key events coming up:

  • Earnings keep rolling in from companies including: Best Buy, Peugeot, Dell, London Stock Exchange, Baidu and Occidental Petroleum.
  • The Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina is on Tuesday.
  • The Bank of Korea announces its policy decision on Thursday, with risks to the outlook growing amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
  • U.S. jobless claims, GDP, durable goods and pending home sales data is out Thursday.
  • Japan industrial production, jobs, and retail sales figures are due on Friday.

Here are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • Futures on the S&P 500 slid 1.2% as of 8:04 a.m. in Hong Kong. The underlying gauge fell 1.1% on Friday.
  • South Korea’s Kospi index dropped 2.4%.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 1.6%.

Currencies

  • The yen rose 0.1% to 111.53 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan slipped 0.3% to 7.0553 per dollar.
  • The euro bought $1.0840, down 0.1%.
  • The Aussie slid 0.3% to 66.06 U.S. cents.
  • The kiwi declined 0.4% to 63.23 U.S. cents.

Bonds

  • Futures on 10-year Treasuries rose 0.3% early Monday. The yield dropped five basis points to 1.47% on Friday.
  • Australia’s 10-year yield fell three basis points to 0.91% on Monday.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude lost 2.5% to $52.04 a barrel.
  • Gold added 1.4% to $1,666.54 an ounce.

By Adam Haigh – bloomberg.com