Futures tank as virus risks deepen

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures tumbled on Thursday as the rapid spread of the coronavirus outside China raised fears of a pandemic and sent investors scurrying to the perceived safety of gold and bonds.

The number of new infections in China, the source of the outbreak, was overtaken for the first time by fresh cases elsewhere on Wednesday, most notably in Italy and Iran.

Adding to the concerns, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an infection in California in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient.

“If this virus spread intensifies stateside, it will most definitely be the straw that breaks the market’s back,” Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp, wrote in a note.

Rising fears of a pandemic, which U.S. health authorities have warned is likely, have wiped about $3.6 trillion off from global stock markets in the past few days.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries fell to record lows, while gold rose 0.5%. Oil prices slid to their lowest in more than a year on fears of lower demand. [US/] [GOL/] [O/R]

The S&P 500 .SPX fell for a fifth straight session on Wednesday as investors worried over the impact of the crisis on global supply chains, which have already been bruised by drastic containment measures in China.

At 1:09 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 384 points, or 1.43%, while Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 137.75 points, or 1.56%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 46 points, or 1.48%, just above their 200-day moving average.

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