U.S. markets closed

Stocks get some relief despite continuing virus worries

Fears that the coronavirus could throttle the global economy have unsettled financial markets (AFP Photo/Philip FONG)

US and European stocks sought to end Wednesday a rout triggered by concerns of the economic impact of the spreading new coronavirus.

While Asian stocks had declined early in the day, stocks in London and Paris pushed higher as Wall Street rebounded following two days of steep losses.

The Dow was up 1.0 percent in midday trading after giving up around three percent on Tuesday when officials said COVID-19 would likely take hold in the United States.

"Wall Street showed a resilience lacking in Europe earlier in the session," remarked Neil Wilson at Markets.com.

"Optimism right now may be misplaced but there are several reasons for this bounce, which on first inspect looks decidedly feline and rather deceased," he quipped.

With cases being reported in more countries -- and lockdowns in nations including Austria, Italy and Spain -- traders had been pretty gloomy about what the crisis could do to the global economy.

Several big companies commented Wednesday on the impact of the virus on their operations.

British drinks group Diageo, the maker of Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka, said COVID-19 would slash its annual sales by up to £325 million ($422 million, 388 million euros).

Diageo, which produces also Baileys liqueur and Johnnie Walker whisky, said sales for the group's financial year ending June 30 would be impacted by between £225 million and £325 million.

French food giant Danone said it expected to take a hit of 100 million euros ($109 million) in first-quarter sales.

The death toll from the new coronavirus is now at more than 2,700, while the number of infected has surpassed 80,000, even if the number of new cases in China, the epicentre, are falling.

The yield on both 10-year US Treasury bills remained near a record low, while the Japanese yen gained against most other leading currencies.

The dollar was kept in check by speculation that the Federal Reserve could cut interest rates to support markets, although for now officials are insisting the US economy remains in good health.

Oil prices fell further on concerns the virus will hit demand for fuel from companies and consumers.

- Key figures around 1700 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,042.47 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 12,774.88 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 5,684.55 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,577.68

New York - UP 1.0 percent at 27,359.93

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8 percent at 22,426.19 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7 percent at 26,696.49 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.8 percent at 2,987.93 (close)

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.38 from 110.20 at 2200 GMT

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0891 from $1.0882

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2928 from $1.3005

Euro/pound: UP at 84.23 pence from 83.67 pence

Brent Crude: DOWN 0.4 percent at $53.85 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $49.78

burs-wai/rl