World stocks skid as virus fears spook markets, hit tourism

BANGKOK (AP) — Stock markets and the price of oil tumbled Monday after China announced sharp increases in the number of people infected with a potentially deadly virus.

In Paris, the CAC 40 lost 2.2% to 5,889 while Germany’s DAX skidded 2.3% to 13,271. Britain’s FTSE 100 gave up 2.3% to 7,414. Shares also looked set for declines on Wall Street, where the future contracts for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both sank 1.5%.

China announced it was extending its week-long public holiday by an extra three days as a precaution against having the virus spread still further. By midnight Sunday, the National Health Commission said 80 people had died out of 2,744 cases that were confirmed.

Various governments have announced plans to evacuate people from Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the center of the pandemic. China halted outbound tours and Wuhan and some other cities stopped public transport, obliging tens of millions of people to stay where they are at the time of the country’s peak travel season.

Many Asian markets, including China’s, were closed for Lunar New Year holidays, while Australia was closed for Australia Day. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index sank 2% to 23,343.51. India’s Sensex lost 1% to 41,204.15, while the benchmark in Thailand dropped 3.1%. Indonesia’s share benchmark was 1.8% lower.

Apart from the direct impact on tourism and travel, “any economic shock to China’s colossal industrial and consumption engines will spread rapidly to other countries through the increased trade and financial linkages associated with globalization,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a commentary.

The virus that has spread to a dozen countries in addition to Hong Kong and Macau can cause pneumonia and other severe respiratory symptoms. The World Health Organization has not yet declared the situation a global…

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