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Asian shares drop as virus fears grip markets again

U.S., the death toll climbed to 12 due to the virus. California declared a statewide emergency

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In China, where the virus outbreak has been steadying, stocks trading in Shanghai have rallied nearly 12% since scraping bottom on Feb. 3. Factories there are gradually reopening, and a return to a sense of normal life may even be on the horizon following swift and severe actions by the government to corral the new form of coronavirus.
But elsewhere in the world, the mood is darker. There are about 17 times as many new infections outside China as in it, according to the World Health Organization.
In the U.S., the death toll climbed to 12 due to the virus. California declared a statewide emergency, Facebook is temporarily closing a Seattle office after a worker was diagnosed with the virus and an industry group said the outbreak could cost airlines as much as $113 billion in lost revenue.
The S&P 500 fell 3.4% to 3,023.94. It’s now 10.7% below the record high it set on Feb. 19. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 3.6% to 26,121.28 and the Nasdaq lost 3.1%, to 8,738.60.
Losses were widespread, and energy stocks in the S&P 500 dropped to their lowest level since March 2009, when they were emerging from the financial crisis.
“The Western world is now following some of China’s playbook, closing schools and declaring a state of emergency for example, but there is a sense that this is too little, too late,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.
Travel-related companies fell again on worries that frightened customers won’t want to confine themselves in planes or boats with others. Royal Caribbean Cruises sank 16.3%, Carnival fell 14.1% and American Airlines Group lost 13.4%.
U.S. congressional leaders reached a deal on an $8.3 billion bill to battle the outbreak, which the Senate passed Thursday, and the Bank of Canada followed up on the Federal Reserve’s surprise cut to interest rates the day before with its own.
Some economists expect the European Central Bank to take action to support markets before its meeting on March 12.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gave up 43 cents to $45.47 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 88 cents to $45.90 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 51 cents to $49.48 per barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 105.77 Japanese yen from 106.13 yen on Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.1239 from $1.1140.

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