The World Health Organization was due to meet later in the day to determine if the new disease that first was reported from the central Chinese city of Wuhan is causing an international health emergency. In the meantime, China and other countries ramped up surveillance, including screenings for fever on aircraft and in airports.
Shares saw moderate gains as investors took advantage of a rare downturn in the markets to seek out bargains, analysts said. Japan's Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.7% to 24,031.35 and the Kospi in South Korea surged 1.2% to 2,267.25. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng jumped 1.3% to 28,3541.04. The S&P ASX/200 in Sydney gained 0.9% to 7,132.70, while the Shanghai Composite index recovered from early losses, picking up 0.3% to 3,060.75. India's Sensex lost 0.5% to 41,107.01. Shares
Markets seemed inured to the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump underway in the U.S. Senate. In Davos, Switzerland, Trump touted the progress of the U.S. economy. Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said that despite a stabilization in economic growth around the world, a “soft underbelly" of risk remains. That was evidenced by the worldwide retreat in financial markets Tuesday on news the new coronavirus can be spread between humans, not just between animals and humans as earlier suspected.
The outbreak of the new virus has coincided with the peak travel season in China for the Lunar New Year festival, and investors fret that it could hurt tourism and ultimately economic growth and corporate profits.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 37 cents to $58.01 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped 20 cents on Tuesday to settle at $58.38 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 35 cents to $64.24 per barrel. Overnight, it lost 61 cents to close at $64.59 a barrel.
Gold fell $2.90 per ounce to $1,555. The dollar rose to 109.97 Japanese yen from 109.86 yen on Tuesday. The euro edged down to $1.1082 from $1.1084.