By Elaine Kurtenbach
Shares advanced in most European and Asian markets on Wednesday after a rebound on Wall Street reversed most losses from a sell-off the day before.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 2.8%, to 27,174.43 after its markets reopened from Lunar New Year holidays, while other Chinese markets remained closed.
The U.S. rally overnight snapped a two-day skid driven by fears that the spread of a new virus in China could snag global economic growth. China reported Wednesday that the virus has sickened more than 6,000 people in China and over a dozen other countries and killed 132 people.
Germany’s DAX lost less than 0.1% to 13,317.76, while the CAC 40 in Paris picked up 0.2% to 5,937.74. In London, the FTSE 100 rose 0.2% to 7,491.56. Wall Street looked set for a steady start, with the future contracts for the S&P 500 and the Dow up 0.1%.
Investors appeared to have placed their concerns about the virus’ potential economic impact on the back burner. China’s central bank moved Wednesday to reassure them, with the official Xinhua News Agency saying it was prepared to ensure enough cash would be available throughout the financial system once markets reopen next week.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.7% to 23,379.40 and in South Korea the Kospi picked up 0.4% to 2,185.28. Australia’s S&P ASX/200 rose 0.5% to 7,031.50, while the Sensex in India climbed 0.6% to 41,207.08. Shares also rose in Southeast Asia, apart from Kuala Lumpur, which fell 1.4% as trading resumed after the Lunar New Year.
Despite Tuesday’s rebound, the potential for still more virus-related scares remains, analysts cautioned.
“Markets may enjoy one or two days in the sun. I would be remiss in my role as the voice of reason if I did not caution investors to be wary of chasing, what may be temporary, dead cat bounces,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary, “Until we have much more clarity on the controlling of the Wuhan virus outbreak at the very least.”
Bond prices fell, sending yields higher following a significant drop a day earlier. The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 1.62% from 1.60% late Tuesday.
So far, major U.S. indexes are still down for the week. The losses have hit smaller company stocks hardest, erasing the Russell 2000’s gains for the year.
U.S. stocks were running at all-time highs at the start of the month. An index measuring volatility in the market was running at 12-month lows and the benchmark S&P 500 had climbed around 13% since early October after Washington and Beijing announced they would sign a preliminary trade deal.
China’s efforts to contain the virus began with the suspension of plane, train and bus links to the central city of Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak. The lockdown has expanded to 17 cities with more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease-control measures ever imposed. Hong Kong plans to cut all rail links to the mainland as of Friday.
Japan, South Korea and the United States have airlifted citizens out of Wuhan and some airlines have announced cancellations of flights to Wuhan and elsewhere in China, citing reduced demand.
Apart from the crisis over the virus, it’s a heavy week for corporate earnings. Boeing, McDonald’s, Facebook and Microsoft will all report results on Wednesday. Other big names reporting this week include Coca-Cola, Amazon, Caterpillar and Exxon Mobil.
The Federal Reserve is also set to deliver its latest interest rate and economic policy update Wednesday. The central bank lowered its key interest rate three times last year in a bid to shield the economy from slowing global growth and the fallout from the U.S.-China trade war.
Benchmark crude oil rose 47 cents to $53.95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 34 cents to settle at $53.48 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 47 cents to $59.28 per barrel. Overnight it picked up 23 cents to close at $58.81 a barrel.
Gold rose 50 cents to $1,570.30 per ounce, silver picked up 4 cents to $17.50 per ounce and copper fell 2 cents to $2.58 per pound.
The dollar slipped to 109.03 Japanese yen from 109.12 yen on Monday. The euro fell to $1.1002 from $1.1025.
Source: AP News