China stocks sink as coronavirus outbreak spooks investors

The Chinese stock market sank to a record low this week as the deadly coronavirus outbreak panicked investors.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed down about 2.8 percent at 2,976.53 Thursday as the virus’s death toll grew ahead of the weekend’s Lunar New Year holiday. That marked the index’s worst end to a lunar year in its history, Bloomberg News reported.

“Fear and panic are rampant,” fund manager Wang Daixin told the news service. “It’s hard to tell how bad things will get before a turn for the better.”

Trading volumes in mainland China were 20 percent higher than average Thursday as foreign traders sold off a record $1.7 billion in shares, according to Bloomberg.

But markets in other parts of the world showed signs of hope Friday after the World Health Organization said the coronavirus was not yet a global health emergency. The disease has killed at least 26 people and sickened more than 800.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened 0.2 percent higher Friday at 29,230.39, as did the S&P 500 at 3,333.10. The Nasdaq composite started the day up 0.4 percent at 9,446.21.

Germany’s blue-chip DAX index rose 1.4 percent to 13,577, Paris’ CAC 40 jumped 1.1 percent to 6,038, and London’s FTSE 100 increased 1.6 percent to 7,630.

Markets were closed Friday for the Lunar New Year holiday in mainland China, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan. But the Nikkei 225 index in Japan ticked up 0.1 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.2 percent in a short trading session.

Chinese businesses have had to grapple with the coronavirus during the new year holiday season as authorities have locked down several cities housing more than 30 million people — more than in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined.

Shanghai Disneyland — which can host up to 100,000 people — will close starting Saturday because of the virus, and seven big movie openings set for this weekend have reportedly been canceled or delayed. Telecom giant Huawei has also pushed back an annual developer conference by more than a month over the outbreak.

With Post wires

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