Futures tumble on fears of financial hit from China virus

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures fell sharply on growing concerns about the financial fallout of a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak in China as the country extended the Lunar New Year holidays and more big businesses shut down.

FILE PHOTO: A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Travel-related stocks, including airlines, casinos and hotels, were the worst-hit in premarket trading on Monday. Several cities in China had been locked down for contagion fears and new cases were reported from across the world.

Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O), Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd (MLCO.O) and Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N), which have large operations in China, were down between 5% and 7%. United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) and American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) fell 3.5% and 2.6%, respectively.

Shares of some tech heavyweights that enjoyed a strong rally recently were also down. Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) were all down about 2%.

The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX recorded its worst week in six months on Friday and investors flocked to safer assets such as gold and government bonds.

The death toll from the outbreak in China rose to 81 on Monday. While a small number of cases linked to people who travelled from Wuhan have been confirmed in more than 10 countries, including Thailand, France, Japan and the United States, no deaths have been reported outside China.

Wall Street’s fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility index .VIX jumped to its highest since Oct. 10.

At 7:00 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 408 points, or 1.41%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 46.5 points, or 1.41% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 167 points, or 1.83%.

Shares in oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) fell about 2% each as crude price dropped below $60 for the first time in nearly three months as the outbreak stoked fears of slowing oil demand. [O/R]

Shares of Yum China Holdings Inc (YUMC.N) fell 6.2% after the company said it had temporarily closed some of its KFC and Pizza Hut stores in Wuhan.

Fourth-quarter earnings season will kick into high gear this week with 141 of the S&P 500 companies expected to report this week including Apple, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Boeing Co (BA.N).

Of the 85 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, about 68% have reported earnings above analysts’ expectations, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

No.1 U.S. homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc (DHI.N) rose 2.5% after raising the upper end of its forecast for full-year home sales.

(This story corrects to “Oct. 10” from “Nov. 10” in paragraph 7)

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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