By Lorcan Roche Kelly
The selloff in stocks which has seen the S&P 500 Index register its worst four-day slide since December 2018 is showing little sign of reversing. Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 1.3% while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.8% lower. A mixture of new cases and more profit warnings is pushing European stocks lower for a fifth day. S&P 500 futures have had a volatile morning, swinging between gains and losses to trade slightly lower by 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time. The 10-year Treasury yield rose slightly from its record low, and gold gained some ground.
Outbreaks of the virus outside China continue to show mounting infections, with numbers rising in Italy, South Korea and Iran. South America reported its first suspected case in Brazil. In the U.S., officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned of widespread disruption if the virus spreads in the country. In China, meanwhile, there is more evidence of the economic hit from the virtual closure of large parts of the nation, with early indicators showing a significant slowdown in February.
Last night’s seven-way Democratic debate saw front runner Bernie Sanders bear the brunt of attacks from the other candidates. His biggest-spending rival, Michael Bloomberg, also came under fire again from Elizabeth Warren. Overall, there was little in the debate, which sometimes risked becoming a free-for-all, that showed any candidate making major inroads into Sanders’s lead. (Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)
Bob Iger abruptly stepped aside as Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive officer, handing the reins to Bob Chapek who was overseeing the company’s theme park and consumer products business. In his time leading Disney, Iger, who will remain as executive chairman through 2021, has turned it into the world’s largest entertainment company. Shares dropped on the announcement. Elsewhere in corporate moves, Salesforce.com Inc. co-Chief Executive Officer Keith Block is stepping down.