Global shares mostly lower as new China virus cases spike

BANGKOK (AP) — Global shares were mostly lower Thursday as reported cases of the new virus jumped in China.

Indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt opened lower, following declines across Asian markets.

London’s FTSE 100 declined 1.4% in morning trading to 7,428.92, and Germany’s DAX lost 1.1% to 13,598.29. France’s CAC 40 fell 1% to 6044.87, reversing gains from the last two days.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite closed 0.7% lower at 2,906.07. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.3% to 27,730.00. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.1% lower at 23,827.73, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2% to 7,103.20. Shares were lower in Singapore, Thailand and India, while New Zealand and Taiwan rose.

China reported more than 15,000 new cases of the COVID-19 disease and 254 more deaths. The jump was apparently due to a new reporting methodology.

Local officials have been widely criticized for their handling of the outbreak of the new form of coronavirus. The virus first surfaced in December in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, and has since spread to more than two dozen countries. China has replaced its top officials in Hubei and in Wuhan.

The spike came as a surprise for investors, who had become more at ease because of a recent decline in the daily number of new cases. Now questions are being asked about whether the rest of China is reporting the number of infections accurately.

Analyst Jingyi Pan of financial firm iG said if the spike portends a “steeper upward trajectory from here, short-term risk aversion could return.”

Many countries have implemented travel restrictions on recent visitors to China, which has more than 99% of the world’s reported infections. Chinese travelers constitute a significant share of tourists in many Asia Pacific countries, as well as in Europe and North America, and a decline in Chinese tourists would impact countries where tourism is key GDP contributor.

On Wall Street, stocks marched higher on Wednesday as investors focused on the latest batch of mostly solid corporate earnings, but renewed virus scare today will have an impact on the market. Futures for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both declined 0.7%.

Benchmark crude oil lost 35 cents to $50.82 a barrel. It rose $1.23 to settle at $51.17 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, lost 60 cents to $55.19 a barrel.

The dollar weakened to 109.695 yen from 110.08 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.0885 from $1.0876.

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