By Avantika Chilkoti
Global stocks were mixed Thursday as conflicting signals in recent days about the containment of the coronavirus outbreak and its potential economic impact subdued investor sentiment.
Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average drifted down 0.1%, and the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index ticked 0.2% lower. The Shanghai Composite Index closed up almost 1.9%, while Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index lost 0.2%.
China has stepped up efforts to limit the economic impact of the viral outbreak by lowering both short- and long-term lending rates this week. The central bank also plans to offer credit support to businesses hurt by the epidemic, while the government earlier in the week pledged other forms of assistance including technological aid in bolstering supply chains. Despite those steps, investors remain concerned about the extent of the damage to the economy.
All eyes are on the number of casualties and the efforts being made to curtail the virus's spread, according to James Athey, a senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments.
The Korean won lost almost 1% against the U.S. dollar after the number of new coronavirus cases surged to 31 on Thursday, bringing the total number of those infected to 82.
Australia's equity benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed at a record for a second straight day, propelled 0.3% higher on the back of strong corporate earnings.
Among European equities, Smith & Nephew was one of the biggest gainers. The medical equipment manufacturer advanced over 7% in London after its fourth-quarter revenue grew faster than expected. Swiss Re retreated 4.1% in Zurich after the reinsurance group reported weaker than expected profit growth for 2019.
Later in the day, the European Central Bank will release the minutes from its January meeting, providing fresh clues on the outlook for the regional economy.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 20, 2020 05:34 ET (10:34 GMT)
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