Global growth concerns fueled by earnings reports and ongoing worries about the coronavirus epidemic contributed to a stock market sell-off on Friday that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 603 points, or 2.1%, to close at 28,256.
Investors dumped equities and tapped into potential safe haven assets such as Bitcoin and gold in a bid to outmaneuver market uncertainty and China’s latest fears about the impact of the coronavirus on trade and travel.
The Dow is now down 3% since last Friday when it closed at 29,160.
Bitcoin rose to $9,551 on Thursday, marking a fresh high for the year. The asset is now trading at $9,301, up from $8502 since last Friday, with Fundstrat Global Advisors head researcher, Tom Lee, speculating that the digital currency will prove itself as a strong hedge against traditional assets.
– breaking from the pattern of 2019 where bitcoin and stocks moved in lockstep https://t.co/O6gWzPBLj1
— Thomas Lee (@fundstrat) January 31, 2020
China’s big economic blow is in motion, with an estimate from CNN pinning the figure at a $60-billion loss for the quarter. Russia, China’s biggest trade partner, has already shut its border to restrict people from traveling and the Chinese government has placed a temporary ban on wildlife trade.
On Thursday, India reported its first case of the virus as the US reported its first case of person-to-person transmission. The UK and Russia confirmed their first cases on Friday.
Speaking at a news conference at the WHO’s Geneva headquarters on Thursday, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the previously unknown pathogen has “escalated into an unprecedented outbreak.” Travel warnings have prohibited Delta, United and American Airlines flights to China as the World Health Organization declares the outbreak a “global health emergency”.
According to the Johns Hopkins real-time data tracker, the death toll has risen to 222, with 213 confirmed recovered and 9,925 now infected.
The US travel ban is expected to widen to six additional countries, reports CNN.
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Featured Image: Shutterstock/Dima Moroz