By Lorcan Roche Kelly
The coronavirus death toll climbed to 170 with confirmed cases in China rising past 7,700 as the outbreak spread to India and the Philippines for the first time. The World Health Organization is meeting today to consider issuing a global alert. The economic costs of the measures taken to battle the outbreak are starting to show up in industry, with airlines hit as flights are canceled. For other companies that rely on the manufacturing hub of Wuhan the knock-on effects may be delayed because production was already halted for the Lunar New Year. The extension of that holiday however means the impact will eventually be felt.
Bank of England
Today is Governor Mark Carney’s last Bank of England decision as head of the monetary body, and he is going out in dramatic style with markets on a knife edge over whether interest rates will be cut. The decision, announced at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time, will be accompanied by updated forecasts for the U.K. economy and followed by a press conference 30 minutes later. Coming on the eve of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, it’s likely that questions over the economic outlook will dominate.
Tesla Inc.’s blowout results saw the company’s shares soar as much as 14% after yesterday’s close, providing more pain for those that have made the company the most heavily shorted American stock. Facebook Inc. saw its shares slump after it announced results that showed slowing growth. In Europe, Deutsche Bank AG reported another loss. Amazon.com Inc. will also announce earnings today, with analysts still bullish on the stock. DuPont de Nemours Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co. are among the other companies reporting.
The respite from virus-driven fears in recent days seems to have evaporated, with stocks falling around the globe. Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slumped 1.8% and Japan’s Topix index closed down 1.5%. In Europe the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.7% lower at 5:45 a.m. in a broad-based sell-off led by energy stocks. S&P 500 futures pointed to a drop at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 1.568% and oil moved lower.
The first reading of U.S. gross domestic product for the final quarter of 2019 is expected to be little changed from the previous period when the data is released at 8:30 a.m. However, the headline number may mask a slump in consumer spending growth, a critical portion of the economy. Weekly initial jobless claims are also at 8:30 a.m. In Washington the impeachment trial continues in the Senate with the chances of Democrats getting to call new witnesses seeming to dim as the number of Republicans willing to vote with them shrinks, meaning the whole thing could be wrapped up with a vote tomorrow.