U.S. stock futures indicated sharp losses for major indexes on Monday, continuing a drop seen from late last week, as concern grows over the fallout from China’s coronavirus, with the death toll and number of infected climbing dramatically from last week.
How are benchmarks performing?
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures
slid 282 points, or 1%, to 28,649, while those for the S&P 500
slid 33 points, or 1%, to 3,260.25. Nasdaq-100
tumbled 116.25 points, or 1.3%, to 9,030 — tech stocks have been in out in front of the gains so far in 2020.
Worries about the spread of the China virus drove stocks to their lowest levels in over a week on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
closed down 170.36 points, or 0.6%, at 28,989.73, while the S&P 500
lost 0.9% to finish at 3,295.47. The Nasdaq
touched a fresh intraday high in early trade but ended down 0.9% at 9,314.91.
For the week the Dow lost 1.2%, while the S&P 500 gave back 1% and the Nasdaq fell 0.8%.
What’s driving the market?
China extended this week’s Lunar New Year holiday and took increasingly drastic measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus, amid warnings it was growing more contagious. As of Monday, the death count rose to 80 from 26 seen at the close of U.S. trading on Friday, and the number of those infected neared 3,000 from 830 confirmed cases. In the U.S., there are now five confirmed cases, with a handful of infections in other countries, such as France and Japan.
Questions were being raised over the effectiveness of the quarantine on places like Wuhan, China, believed to be the epicenter of the virus. Wuhan’s mayor Zhou Xianwang said that five million of the city’s 11 million people had left the city before the travel ban was imposed. As well, reports that the virus may be infectious during its incubation period may make containment even more difficult .
While most Asian markets were closed for the Lunar New Year, the Nikkei 225 index
fell 2% and crude oil
fell by 2% as well, while demand for perceived safe haven assets rose.
In short, fears over the coronavirus could provide investors with a reason to sell after a torrid 2019 rally.
“Putting the human tragedy aside, from a cold markets perspective the coronavirus might serve the purpose of taking some of the heat out of a market that has been rising rapidly for months,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, in a note to clients. All major U.S. indexes remain around 1% off recent record closes.
Investors are also facing a huge week for earnings, with nearly half of the 30 Dow components due to report results from the important holiday season, including Apple Inc.
and Microsoft Corp.
alongside non-Dow companies such as Facebook. Inc.
and Amazon.com Inc.