Dow Futures Rebound on Controversial WHO Coronavirus Statement

The World Health Organization said it is confident China will contain the deadly coronavirus, but data out of Hong Kong suggests otherwise.
Posted in: Markets
Published:
January 28, 2020 11:54 AM UTC
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures rebounded 85 points on Tuesday after the biggest sell-off since October.
  • Investor fears calmed as the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said he was confident in China’s ability to contain the deadly coronavirus.
  • But the latest scientific data appears to contradict the hopeful WHO statement.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures rebounded 85 points in early trading Tuesday. It’s a welcome respite after Monday’s brutal selling which saw the Dow Jones chalk up its biggest loss since October.

The rebound comes off the back of positive comments by the World Health Organization (WHO) which sought to downplay Coronavirus fears. A statement issued by the Chinese foreign ministry said WHO director Tedros Adhanom urged calm.

[Tedros] said the WHO is confident in China’s ability to prevent and control the epidemic… Tedros said the WHO does not advocate for countries to evacuate their citizens from China, adding there was no need to overreact.

While the comments soothed investor fears of a global epidemic, the scientific data paints a different picture. Virologists in Hong Kong this morning said the coronavirus could infect 150,000 people per day if it continues unabated.

Dow futures bounce back after brutal selloff

Dow Jones futures contracts enjoyed a strong boost overnight, settling 85 points higher as of 5.58 am ET.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures bounced back after the worst day on the stock market in three months. Source: Yahoo Finance

S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq Composite futures were 0.32% and 0.5% higher respectively.

Coronavirus: no need to panic?

According to the WHO, the coronavirus is not yet an “international emergency.” An independent panel has twice voted against the declaration.

The virus has now killed more than 100 in China and infected more than 4,500 globally. Some countries, including the U.S. are preparing to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan, where the virus was thought to have originated.

The number of U.S. airports screening passengers for the Wuhan coronavirus is growing. A Japan Airlines worker (C) wears a face mask while working inside a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). | Source: AFP/Mario Tama

The WHO has advised against this measure, saying that China has it under control.

Scientists aren’t so sure…

The WHO statement is somewhat controversial given scientific data out of Hong Kong this morning.

“We have to be prepared that this particular epidemic may be about to become a global epidemic” – Gabriel Leung, Lead Researcher, Hong Kong University Faculty of Medicine.

The researchers ran a model simulation that revealed the coronavirus could infect 150,000 people per day at its peak. Virologists say the latest outbreak may be ten times worse than the 2003 SARS virus because it is infectious during the incubation period, where patients show no symptoms. The spread of the virus appears to parabolic in nature.

Confirmed cases of the coronavirus are accelerating fast. The figures have doubled since this chart was published yesterday. Source: Reuters

With five cases in the U.S. and the first confirmed human-to-human contagion outside of China, the coronavirus risks becoming a global problem.

Dow Jones won’t recover until the coronavirus retreats

Citigroup weighed in on the the outbreak’s effect on the stock market this morning. Analysts said the coronavirus will impact the markets for another month or more.

We believe the market is right to be fearful of the potential scale of the economic cost at this point in time… Indeed, Chinese demand is set to remain extremely weak for 4-6 weeks.

Only a significant development will reverse the Dow Jones downtrend. For example, if China can contain the virus or a vaccine is discovered.

Any news of a vaccine or that patients are responding to medicinal treatment, or that containment is working, would be bullish catalysts.

Until then, the global stock markets remain in cautious risk-off mode.

This article was edited by Samburaj Das for CCN.com. If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or Rights and Duties of the Editor, or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us and we will look at it as soon as possible.

Last modified: June 24, 2020 1:05 AM UTC

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Ben Brown @_ben_brown

Ben is a journalist with a decade of experience covering financial markets. Based in London, UK, his writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and he was Chief Editor at Block Explorer, the world's longest-running source of Blockchain data. Reach him at benjamin-brown.uk or on Twitter at _Ben_Brown. Email ben @ benjamin-brown.uk.