China has clamped travel restrictions on 40 million people on the eve of the Lunar New Year’s holiday in an effort to contain an outbreak of a respiratory virus that has killed at least 39 people in the country.
France has reported the first two cases in Europe
U.S. health authorities are monitoring more than 60 people for potential infection and have confirmed a third case of the infection.
The worst news, however, is that some infected patients aren’t showing a fever. Health organizations around the world have been using indications of fever to screen for the coronavirus. An inability to use fever to screen for the virus would vastly complicate efforts to contain its spread.
Stocks fell today with the common explantion fear of the virus.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed down 0.83% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 0.48%. The NASDAQ dropped 0.82% and the Russell 2000 small cap index lost 1.33%. The iShares MSCI Emerging Market ETF (EEM) slid 0.80%.
As you’d expect, stocks with heavy exposure to China were off the most. China Southern Airlines (ZNH) dropped 2.47% on the day. Starbucks (SBUX), which closed some stores in China, was down 1.83%. McDonald’s, which closed stores in Hubei province, lost 1.02%. General Motors (GM), which sells and makes cars in China, was down 1.63%. Yum! Brands, which sells pizza and fried chicken in China, slipped 0.94%.