The dreaded coronavirus is wreaking havoc globally, from health concerns to the stock market. Although it is not certain how this deadly virus found its way into our world, it seems like something out of a Robin Cook or Dean Koontz novel. Earthquakes and plagues are upon us. Beware of what may come next: the mark of the beast.
(CNN Business-Hong Kong/London) Stock markets plunged around the world Monday after the number of coronavirus cases surged in Italy and South Korea, putting two more major economies at risk from a virus that has already caused widespread disruption in China.
The Dow (INDU) closed 1,032 points, or 3.6%, lower, marking its worst day in two years, when it closed down more than 1,000 points twice within a week as inflation fears gripped Wall Street. On February 5 and again on February 8, 2018, the Dow’s percentage drop was more than 4% on both days.
Since the index is higher now, on a percentage basis Monday’s selloff isn’t as dramatic as other drops in the Dow’s history.
Still, it was only the third time in history that the index closed more than 1,000 lower. It is now in the red for the year and at its lowest point total since December 11.
The declines in the United States follow steep losses in Asia and Europe on Monday as investors take in the risks to corporate profits and economic growth posed by the coronavirus’ spread.
South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) index closed down nearly 3.9%, its worst day since October 2018, after coronavirus cases in the country surged past 800. Italy’s main index finished down 5.4%, after the number of cases there topped 200 — including five deaths — and authorities started shutting down public buildings, schools and sports events in parts of the country.
A growing number of companies are warning that the coronavirus will prevent them from meeting sales or profit targets for the first three months of the year. Reduced demand for goods and services, and factory closures in China, are also expected to knock the global economy and weigh on trade at a time when Japan and Germany are already teetering on the brink of recession.
The stock market reaction to the outbreak had so far been rather muted, and US stocks have notched a string of record highs. But the spike in the number of cases in Italy and South Korea, the world’s eighth and twelfth largest economies, raises fears of a pandemic and ups the stakes for businesses and investors.
The World Health Organization is preparing for a potential pandemic, said WHO Executive Director Mike Ryan.
Coronavirus-related deaths have risen to more than 2,620 worldwide, with over 30 outside of mainland China. There are at least 79,300 confirmed cases globally.
[Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Rob McLean, Laura He, and Anneken Tappe, originally at CNN Business; title changed by Pulpit & Pen.]
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