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Brief updates about US Markets (NYSE & Nasdaq). News about the movement of global indices such as Dow Jones, Nasdaq, S&P 500 etc.
Australia Stocks fall as coronavirus fears grow
25-Feb-20   09:54 Hrs IST

The Australian share market tumbled on Tuesday, 25 February 2020, as investor sentiment was dented due to concerns that an increase in coronavirus infections around the world will impact on supply chains and global economic growth. Around late afternoon, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index declined 128.27 points, or 1.84%, to 6,850.00, while the broader All Ordinaries stumbled 127.80 points, or 1.8%, to 6,937.60.

Sydney market opened lower and worsened as the spread of the coronavirus inside and outside of China may disrupt global economic growth. In recent days, clusters of infection have been seen in South Korea, Italy and Iran. Broadly speaking, the illness has had an impact on the flow of people, tourism, trade, supply chains and demand for commodities.

Chinese officials reported 508 new cases as on Monday, 24 February 2020, though the overall total in mainland China is nearly 77,658 infected, with 2,663 deaths. Also, the reports stated sharp increases in the number of cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran. Italy, which Moody's says will fall into recession this quarter because of the virus, has the largest known outbreak outside of Asia, with more than 200 confirmed cases and six deaths as of Monday. The South Korea, a critical link in the technology industry's pan-Asian supply chain, reported 60 new cases, bringing the number of infected cases to 893 and death toll of 8, and a lawmaker in Iran said the death toll from the city of Qom is 50.

Goldman Sachs on Monday cut its estimate for U.S. economic growth in the first quarter to just 1.2% from an original 1.4%, which would make it one the weakest three-month periods in Trump's presidency.

On Saturday, 22 February 2020, the International Monetary Fund warned the virus outbreak could reduce global economic growth by 0.1% this year, and drag China's annual growth 0.4%age points lower than January estimates.

Economists at Standard Chartered Bank on last Friday, 21 February 2020, estimated that COVID-19 epidemic could affect 30% of China's imports and 10% of its exports, prompting them to lower their gross domestic product forecast for China this year to 5.5% from 5.8%.

Factories around the world are grappling with parts shortages as their Chinese suppliers struggle to resume normal operations. With global economic engines sputtering, the Federal Reserve and other central banks facing face calls for emergency help.

Central banks across Asia have already been easing policy, while governments have promised large injections of fiscal stimulus, something western countries might also have to consider. But central bank chiefs may be ill equipped to battle the economic consequences of the flulike illness, which has prevented many Chinese workers from returning to their assembly lines and kept consumers shut at home instead of shopping.

In recent weeks a number of Australian companies have warned of the potential impact of the coronavirus on their businesses. This includes Blackmores (BKL), Cochlear (COH), Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), WiseTech (WTC), Sydney Airport (SYD), Webjet (WEB) and Select Harvests (SHV).

Most of ASX sectors were lower, the tech index has rebounded aggressively from its bottom mainly thanks to improvements from Appen (APX), which is surging on its earnings this morning.

Travel related stocks continued their declines on the risk of further travel restrictions, flight cancellations and a more cautious tourist. Qantas (QAN) was down 1.5%, Webjet (WEB) 6% and Flight Centre (FLT) 2.4%. Retailers from JB Hi-Fi (JBH) to Harvey Norman (HVN) and Myer (MYR) were under pressure.

Shares of Mosaic Brands, the company sources 85% of its products from China, tumbled 14% after stated that it is experiencing delivery and manufacturing delays as thousands of Chinese factory workers stay home due to virus fears.

CURRENCY & COMMODITY NEWS: The Australian dollar slid against greenback, as the number of coronavirus infections rose sharply in South Korea, Italy and Iran, sending investors scurrying to safe havens such as gold. The Australian dollar was at $0.6616 following its decline from levels above $0.67 last week.

Crude-oil prices fell 5%, with West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery settling 4.9% lower at $50.87 a barrel, while April Brent crude, the global benchmark, lost 5.5% to finish at $55.27 a barrel.

Gold prices surged by $27.80 an ounce, or 1.7%, to settle at $1,676.60, its highest finish in seven years.

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