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Global markets fall sharply as virus cases spread past Asia

Markets fall as virus spreads

U.S. stocks fell sharply in early trading Monday, following a broad sell-off in overseas markets, as a surge in virus cases and a worrisome spread of the disease outside the epicenter in China sent investors running for safety.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 840 points, or 2.9%, to 28,146 and gave up all of its gains for the year. The S&P 500 index skidded 2.7% and gave up most of its gains for 2020. The Nasdaq fell 3.2%.

Canada's S&P/TSX composite index was down 284.48 points at 17,559.05.

More than 79,000 people worldwide have been infected by the new coronavirus. China, where the virus originated, still has the majority of cases and deaths. But, the rapid spread to other countries is raising anxiety about the threat the outbreak poses to the global economy.

South Korea is now on its highest alert for infectious diseases after cases there spiked. Italy reported a sharp rise in cases and a dozen towns in the northern part of that country are under quarantine. The nation now has the biggest outbreak in Europe, prompting officials to cancel Venice’s famed Carnival, along with soccer matches and other public gatherings.

Germany’s DAX slid 4% and Italy's benchmark index dropped 5.6%. South Korea’s Kospi shed 3.8% and markets in Asia fell broadly.

Investors looking for safe harbours bid up prices for U.S. government bonds and gold. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell sharply, to 1.38% from 1.47% late Friday. Gold prices jumped 1.8%.

“Stock markets around the world are beginning to price in what bond markets have been telling us for weeks – that global growth is likely to be impacted in a meaningful way due to fears of the coronavirus,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.

The viral outbreak threatens to crimp global economic growth and hurt profits and revenue for a wide range of businesses. Companies from technology giant Apple to athletic gear maker Nike have already warned about a hit to their bottom lines. Airlines and other companies that depend on travellers are facing pain from cancelled plans and shuttered locations.



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