By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
European stocks and U.S. stock futures fell on Thursday, with coronavirus concerns simmering away for investors on the heels of a strong bounce for equities.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -1.20% fell 0.7% to 383.66, after rallying around 1.4% to 386.30. The index has been rising for three straight sessions. The German DAX 30 index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.71% fell 0.8%, after a 1.2% gain on Wednesday, to mark its biggest rise since early February, the same as the Stoxx Europe 600. The French CAC 40 index /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -1.58% fell 0.9% and the FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -1.55% slid 1.2%.
Those gains came as U.S. stocks rallied, which many attributed to the news that former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged as the front-runner of the Democratic Party’s presidential race. But U.S. stock futures fell sharply into the red on Thursday, threatening to give up a chunk of those gains. Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 +0.06% , S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/209948968/delayed ES00 +0.07% and Nasdaq-100 futures /zigman2/quotes/210219788/delayed NQ00 +0.12% were all down by more than 1%.
The International Monetary Fund announced a $50 billion aid package on Wednesday to fight the coronavirus, in a week that has seen interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve and Australian and Canadian central banks. But the IMF also warned of a more severe global slowdown from the virus than previously estimated, tapping into worries that have persistently dogged stock markets and investor sentiment.
That is as the coronavirus spread continued outside of China, and countries have been forced to adopt increasingly severe containment measures, with Italy closing schools until mid-March. California has declared a state of emergency after announcing its first death due to the virus.
On the corporate front, the virus was blamed in part for the collapse of struggling U.K. regional airline Flybe, which has gone into bankruptcy. Airlines have been struggling to cope with a drop in passenger traffic, with United /zigman2/quotes/205037281/composite UAL +1.03% announcing Wednesday that it would cut flights and ask workers to take unpaid leave.
Shares of Norwegian Air Shuttle /zigman2/quotes/204014691/delayed NO:NAS -5.23% slid 5% after the airline scrapped its profit guidance and said it would cut flights. Shares of Air France-KLM /zigman2/quotes/205396176/delayed FR:AF -5.78% dropped over 3%, though cut-rate airlines easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ -6.55% and Ryanair Holdings /zigman2/quotes/205429530/delayed IE:RY4C -3.18% rose modestly.
Airbus /zigman2/quotes/208224336/delayed FR:AIR -1.62% shares fell over 2%. The multinational aerospace group may reduce output of its A330neo after Air Asia X said it would defer deliveries amid a slump in travel due to the coronavirus, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
On the upside, shares of Hugo Boss /zigman2/quotes/206695930/delayed DE:BOSA -3.81% on Thursday reported a drop in net profit for the fourth quarter of 2019. The company warned that the coronavirus will hurt its performance in 2020, especially in the first quarter, but that the situation would gradually normalize by the middle of this year.