Business Live: Jump in new coronavirus cases stymies stock rally

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9:45 AM

OPEC chops global oil demand growth forecast over coronavirus

The OPEC oil cartel on Wednesday lowered its forecast for growth in global oil demand this year by nearly a fifth due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

In its monthly report on the world’s oil market, OPEC said it now expects growth in global oil demand of 0.99 million barrels per day (mbd) this year, down from the 1.22 mbd forecast last month.

“The outbreak of the coronavirus in China during the first half of 2020 is the major factor behind this downward revision,” OPEC said. Read more

9:30 AM

Jump in new coronavirus cases stymies stock rally

Asian stock markets wobbled on Thursday while safe-havens such as the yen, gold and bonds rose as the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in the outbreak’s epicentre jumped.

China’s Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated, reported 242 new deaths, double the previous day’s toll, and confirmed 14,840 new cases on Feb. 12.

The rise in the number of cases, which came as officials adopted a new methodology for counting infections, is a sevenfold increase from a day earlier.

It was not immediately clear how the new methods affected the results, nor why the death toll rose so sharply, but it seemed to dash hopes that the virus’ spread might be slowing.

E-mini S&P 500 futures turned from positive to fall 0.3% . Dow Jones futures fell by the same margin, suggesting a pause in Wall Street’s strong rally.

Ten-year U.S. Treasuries fell about 3 basis points to 1.607% , the yen strengthened past 110 per dollar and a rally in Asian currencies against the dollar halted.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was steady in morning trade but the news knocked the week’s momentum from stock markets.

“The slowdown (in cases) was the key driver of the rally in growth-exposed assets,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“A lot of people leapt to the conclusion that we might have seen a peak…the reversal of what appeared to be good news is enough to have people scrambling for the exits.”

Japan’s Nikkei was flat while Australia’s ASX/S&P 200 index retreated from a record high. The Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng wavered either side of unchanged.

Gold rose 0.3% to $1570.12 per ounce. Reuters

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