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Global stocks fall as virus cases spread


Global stocks extended losses Wednesday as investors continued to fret over the fast-spreading coronavirus and its impact on the economy. 

U.S. shares appeared set to open mildly higher. Dow futures climbed 70 points while Standard & Poor’s 500 futures were virtually unchanged. Tuesday marked the first back-to-back 3% losses for the S&P 500 since the summer of 2015. The index is the main benchmark for mutual funds.

The Dow Jones industrial average has shed nearly 2,000 points over the past two days. Heading into Wednesday, the blue-chip average is off 8.4% from its Feb. 12 record, putting it on the brink of a correction, generally defined as a decline of 10% from a recent high. 

Investors were spooked this week as more companies, including United Airlines and Mastercard, warned the outbreak of a coronavirus will hurt their finances, and more cases were reported in Europe and the Middle East, far from the epicenter in China. Meanwhile, U.S. health officials called on Americans to be prepared for the disease to spread in the United States, where there are currently just a few dozen cases.

Traders works after the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wall Street, August 1, 2019, in New York City.

“The market had been too complacent about a virus that continues to spread across continents, and which will have a considerable impact on growth moving forward,” Anthony Saglimbene, global market strategist at Ameriprise Financial, says in a note. “This could lead to more near-term market volatility and pressure stock prices further.”

The viral outbreak that originated in China has now infected more than 80,000 people globally, with more cases being reported in Europe and the Middle East. The majority of cases and deaths remain centered in China, but the rapid spread to other parts of the world has spooked markets and raised fears that it will hurt the global economy.



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