World Share Markets Struggle for Footing After Virus-Battered Week

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World share markets fought to regain their footing on Friday as investors clutched at hopes that China could contain the coronavirus, even as headlines spoke of more cases and deaths, travel bans, evacuations, and factory shutdowns, Reuters informs.

Europe opened 0.3% higher [.EU] following a bounce in Tokyo, but did little to repair what has been the most turbulent and costly week for many markets since August.

The World Health Organization on Thursday labeled the virus a global emergency.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said the greatest worry was the potential for the virus to infect countries with weaker health systems, though his praise for China’s response seemed to steady markets.

MSCI’s broadest index of world shares got back to flat. Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended their fall, however, dropping 0.4%, and appeared set for their worst weekly loss in a year, of 4.6%. Thursday’s 2.3% dive was the sharpest one-day loss in six months.

Japan’s Nikkei bounced 1%, but was off 2.6% for the week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng drifted 0.3% lower and has shed 9% in two weeks. Korea’s Kospi had its worst week in 15 months, losing 5.6%.

“The coronavirus is outweighing everything else,” said Francesca Fornasari, head of currency solutions at Insight Investments. “We have seen quite a position unwind and … whatever is coming out in terms of data is for the period when the virus hadn’t become quite such a big issue.”

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