U.S. equities slumped on concern that the coronavirus that originated in China will take a heavy toll on corporate earnings. The dollar jumped and gold climbed to a seven-year high as investors sought havens.
Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and other big tech names led losses after Japan reported two deaths and South Korea confirmed its first fatality from the disease amid a report the illness was spreading in Beijing. ViacomCBS Inc. tumbled after sales missed estimates, while Morgan Stanley dropped after agreeing to buy E-Trade Financial Corp. for $13 billion. The S&P 500 Index pared the worst of its decline in the afternoon amid gains for automakers and real estate companies.
The yen extended its fall toward 112 per dollar amid disappointing economic news and early positioning before the fiscal year-end next month. Treasuries rallied.
Sentiment turned negative Thursday, a day after equities reached record highs, as the infection that originated in China continues to expand beyond the mainland. Earnings misses are adding to the gloom, alongside fresh warnings on the pathogen’s impact from A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container shipping firm, and Air France-KLM. Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s chief equity strategist said a near-term correction for the stock market is looking more probable.
“It could be some larger players hedging against downside risk of the coronavirus spreading,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance. “That, on top of the Goldman call that a correction is more likely, has people on edge.”
Elsewhere, subpar results from AXA SA and Telefonica SA weighed on European equity gauges. Asia stocks traded mixed. Oil gained in New York.