Friday January 31st


Dow futures drop 200 points as coronavirus keeps investors on edge

U.S. stock index futures traded lower Friday morning as market participants try to assess the potential economic impact of China’s fast-spreading coronavirus. Around 5:45 a.m. ET, Dow futures indicated a drop of more than 200 points at the open. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq were both marginally lower. China’s National Health Commission confirmed on Friday that there have been 9,692 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 213 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the deadly pneumonia-like virus as a global health emergency on Thursday, citing concern that the outbreak continues to spread to other countries with weaker health systems. WHO’s designation was made to help the United Nations health agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the outbreak. The virus, which was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has now spread to at least 18 other countries. Elsewhere, the U.K. is due to officially leave the European Union at 6 p.m. ET, marking one of the biggest political and economic shifts in modern Europe. The world’s fifth-largest economy will enter into a “transition period” immediately thereafter, in which the U.K. remains a member of the single market and customs unions, but kicks off negotiations with the bloc in the hope of striking a free trade deal. On the data front, personal income for December, consumer spending for December and core personal consumption expenditures for December will all be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for January and a final reading of consumer sentiment for January will follow slightly later in the session. In corporate news, Caterpillar, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil are among some of the major companies scheduled to report earnings before the opening bell. Asia markets were mixed on Friday as fears over the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China continued to weigh on investor sentiment. Japanese stocks closed higher as the Nikkei 225 rose 0.99% to 23,205.18. The Topix index also added 0.58% to end its trading day at 1,684.44. South Korea’s Kospi, on the other hand, dropped 1.35% to close at 2,119.01. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed earlier gains as it fell into negative territory, declining 0.13% as of its final hour of trading. Gold prices inched higher on Friday and were set to post their biggest monthly gain in five, as the coronavirus epidemic fueled economic slowdown concerns, despite the World Health Organization’s confidence that the outbreak could be controlled. Spot gold rose 0.2% to $1,576.28 per ounce by 0756 GMT. The metal has gained 3.9% so far this month, on course for its best month since August. U.S. gold futures declined 0.6% to $1,580.10.