World share prices rebounded Wednesday as confidence rose in China's handling of an outbreak of a new virus that has infected 440 people, with nine confirmed deaths.
Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.2% to 7,622.61, while the CAC 40 in Paris was flat at 6,047.81. In Germany, the DAX picked up 0.2% to 13,585.45. The future contract for the S&P 500 gained 0.4% while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3%.
The World Health Organization was due to meet later in the day to determine if the new disease that first was reported from the central Chinese city of Wuhan is causing an international health emergency. In the meantime, China and other countries ramped up surveillance, including screenings for fever on aircraft and in airports.
Shares saw moderate gains as investors took advantage of a rare downturn in the markets to seek out bargains, analysts said.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.7% to 24,031.35 and the Kospi in South Korea surged 1.2% to 2,267.25. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng jumped 1.3% to 28,3541.04. The S&P ASX/200 in Sydney gained 0.9% to 7,132.70, while the Shanghai Composite index recovered from early losses, picking up 0.3% to 3,060.75. India's Sensex lost 0.5% to 41,107.01. Shares
Markets seemed inured to the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump underway in the U.S. Senate, and there was scant news apart from the virus to drive trading. But South Korea reported better than expected economic growth in the last quarter of 2019, saying its GDP rose 1.2% from the previous quarter, an improvement on the previous quarter's 0.4% growth. Economists attributed the stronger growth to increased government spending, reduced trade friction and a recovery in demand for semiconductors.
"It continues a noticeable trend of improving data in Asia over the past few months, which does imply a recovery is underway," Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. However, he noted that a "soft underbelly" of risk remains, as evidenced by the worldwide retreat in financial markets Tuesday on news the new coronavirus can be spread between humans, not just between animals and humans as earlier suspected.
The outbreak of the new virus has coincided with the peak travel season in China for the Lunar New Year festival, and investors fret that it could hurt tourism and ultimately economic growth and corporate profits.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 41 cents to $57.97 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped 20 cents on Tuesday to settle at $58.38 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 42 cents to $64.17 per barrel. Overnight, it lost 61 cents to close at $64.59 a barrel.
Gold fell $1.40 per ounce to $1,556.50. Silver fell 1 cent to $17.80 per ounce and copper fell 5 cents to $2.80 per pound.
The dollar rose to 109.95 Japanese yen from 109.86 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1091 from $1.1084.