Stocks – Europe to Edge Higher; Virus Prompts Caution

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By Peter Nurse – European stock markets are set to post modest gains at the open Tuesday, rebounding a touch from Monday’s sharp losses. However, the tone remains one of caution and the sectors most exposed to the Chinese consumer are likely to stay weak.

At 02:05 ET (0705 GMT), the contract traded 83 points, or 0.6% higher. France’s were up 33 points, or 0.6%, while the contract in the U.K. rose 36 points, or 0.5%. Futures on the pan-eurozone index, the , gained 24 points, or 0.7%.

Markets in mainland China and Hong Kong are still shut, but Japan’s closed 0.6% lower.

Earlier, the death toll from the new strain of coronavirus climbed to 106, with Beijing suffering its first victim, while the number of total confirmed cases in China surged to 4,515, the country’s National Health Commission said. All but six of those to die were in Wuhan, the city where the disease was first noticed.

Though cases of the virus have been confirmed in other countries, no fatalities have been reported outside China.

The Chinese government has sealed off entire cities, isolating some 50 million people in the region around Wuhan, in the hope this will curb the spread of the disease. Long-distance buses and some public transport networks have also been shut down.

Wall Street closed sharply in the red Monday, with the down 1.6%, the off 1.9% while the slumped 1.6%, more than 450 points. This followed on from hefty losses in Europe, with the in Germany and France’s dropping 2.7% and the U.K.’s off 2.3%.

“Equities are finally beginning to contemplate the possibility that the virus 2019-nCoV in China will have significant economic impact,” said Peter Garnry, Head of Equity Strategy at Saxo Bank Group.

“The most sensitive sectors to the Chinese coronavirus and potential economic impact are materials, energy, industrials, IT and consumer discretionary,” he added.

Turning to corporate earnings, SAP SE (DE:)will be in focus Tuesday after the leading provider of business software raised its revenue and profit outlook.

However, most eyes will be on Wall Street as Apple (NASDAQ:) reports earnings after the bell, with many eager to see whether its latest slate of phones has revived sales. Additionally, three more components will issue results ahead of trading, namely Pfizer (NYSE:), 3M (NYSE:) and United Technologies (NYSE:). Starbucks (NASDAQ:) will join Apple in reporting after the close.

The U.K.’s , at 06:00 AM ET (1100 GMT) could be of some interest ahead of the Bank of England’s rate-setting meeting on Thursday.

U.S. data will also be studied carefully at the start of the ’s two-day meeting. are due at 8:30 AM ET (1330 GMT), and are expected to have risen 0.3% last month, while at 10:00 AM ET, the January consumer confidence index is expected to come in at 128 from 126.5 in December.

Elsewhere, oil has traded in a calmer fashion, after Monday’s sharp losses.

At 2:00 AM ET (0700 GMT), futures traded 0.1% higher at $53.17 and the international benchmark contract fell 0.1% to $58.51. for February delivery on New York’s COMEX were 0.1% higher at $1,578.25.

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