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Coronavirus fears continue to pressure global stock exchanges


Major US stock indices finished at fresh records Monday, shrugging off worries about the coronavirus that pressured other equity markets and drove oil prices lower.

As the outbreak continued, Chinese President Xi Jinping donned a face mask while visiting medical workers and patients affected by the deadly coronavirus that has killed more than 900 people.

Although parts of China remain shut down, roads in Beijing and the financial hub of Shanghai had significantly more traffic Monday, while the southern city of Guangzhou said it would start to resume normal public transport.

“Some of the larger Chinese manufacturers seem set to return to work this week,” noted senior market analyst Edward Moya at the online broker Oanda.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended at fresh records, while the Dow won solid gains and pulled to within 100 points of a record of its own.

“At least, we have an idea that the government has done a very good job at taking action and trying to contain it,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

“It may get worse, but we feel good about what we know right now.”

Equity markets in Europe retreated, while oil prices fell decisively on worries about loss of petroleum demand due to the outbreak.

Investors worldwide have been watching with concern as China, the world´s second-largest economy, battles the novel coronavirus, which emerged at the end of last year in the central city of Wuhan, prompting authorities to impose lockdowns and quarantine measures.

The domestic impact was reflected in China´s inflation figures released Monday, which showed the highest rise in consumer prices in more than eight years, with food prices spiking more than 20 percent.

It has also disrupted the supply chains of major global firms such as Apple supplier Foxconn and auto giant Toyota as key production facilities across China have been temporarily closed, and major airlines have halted service.

Investors are looking ahead to key US data releases on retail sales and consumer pricing, as well as two days of congressional testimony with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell starting Tuesday.

In New York, HP Inc. gained 0.8 percent as Xerox said it was raising its offer for the computer and printer maker to about $36 billion.

The new offer from the imaging and copying giant is around 10 percent higher than the bid launched last year and rejected by the HP board of directors. Xerox climbed 1.4 percent.

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