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$5 trillion wiped off global stocks as the coronavirus takes hold in new countries

Feb 28, 2020

Global stock markets have plummeted to their worst week since the 2008 financial crash, with $5 trillion wiped off global stocks as the coronavirus takes hold in new territories and sparks fresh concerns about a global pandemic.

  • In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei dropped 3.67% on Friday, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 2.4% and mainland China’s Shanghai composite index was down 3.71%.
  • European markets followed suit, with London’s FTSE 100 opening 3.3% down, while Germany’s DAX fell 3.6% and in France, the CAC 40 was down 3.1%. Italy’s FTSE MIB was down 2.3% on Friday.
  • The Stoxx 600, the pan-European index, is on course for its biggest weekly drop since the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Economists are now warning that the impact of the illness could trigger a global recession as Covid-19, which just weeks ago appeared to have little international spread, could now become a global pandemic. 
  • It follows a dramatic plummet on Wall Street on Thursday, where shares plunged 4.4%—the biggest fall since August 2011, while the Dow Jones recorded its biggest daily points drop.
  • Brent crude oil benchmark dropped to below $50.31, marking its lowest level since December 2018.

In numbers:

  • Cases have again spiked in South Korea, with more than 2,300 Covid-19 infections now reported. According to the BBC’s Seoul correspondent, some people are turning to different ways to prevent the spread of germs:
  • K-pop stars BTS, one of the world’s biggest bands, cancelled four concerts in Seoul in April, where 200,000 fans were due to attend.
  • 700 holidaymakers remain stuck in a Tenerife hotel where at least four guests have now tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Japan’s Hokkaido island declared a state of emergency until March 19, as at least 63 cases and two deaths there. Cases in Hokkaido account for around 25% of cases in Japan.

New cases: 

  • A new case in Nigeria marks the first infection in sub-Saharan Africa, with #coronavirusnigeria trending on Twitter on Friday. 
  • There are new cases in Northern Ireland and in Wales on Friday, bringing the U.K. total 19.
  • New Zealand has also recorded its first case, a person in their sixties who recently returned from Iran.
  • Lithuania also marked its first case, someone who recently returned from Italy, which has the largest number of cases outside Asia.
  • In the Netherlands, the first two cases were reported on Thursday and Friday.

Key background: The coronavirus outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China, has now accelerated to become a global issue as more than 83,000 cases have been reported worldwide across Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Australasia. Around 2,800 people have died, mostly in China. Director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, this week said the pneumonia-like illness has pandemic potential as it continued to spread to new countries. The WHO earlier designated coronavirus a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ (PHEIC).

Meanwhile, the impact of the illness has disrupted supply chains for smartphone makers and car manufacturers, forced international companies to encourage staff to work from home, and seen high profile fashion, sporting, business and cultural events either cut short or cancelled. Around half of U.S. companies in China say they expect revenue to fall this year if the situation does not subside by April, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Tangent: Government officials around the world are taking measures to isolate themselves, while some have themselves tested positive. Mongolia’s president is in precautionary self-isolation for two weeks after returning from a short trip to neighboring China, while the president of Italy’s hard-hit Lombardy region has isolated himself after one of his employees tested positive for the virus. Iran, which is at the centre of the outbreak in the Middle East, has seen at least seven of its ministers test positive for the virus. The Pope has also cancelled engagements for a second day, after falling ill, although it is not known what he is ill with.

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