European stocks are set to decline further at the open Thursday as the rapid spread of coronavirus continues to dominate market sentiment.

London’s FTSE index is expected to open 144 points lower at 6,869, the German DAX is seen 319 points lower at 12,454, the French CAC down 5,545 points and Italy’s FTSE MIB down 507 points at 22,836, according to IG.

The spread of the coronavirus — which has now infected more than 81,000 people and killed over 2,700 — continues to rattle markets and policy makers around the world.

China’s National Health Commission said there were 433 new confirmed cases and 29 additional deaths as of Feb. 26. South Korea, where there is the second largest outbreak after China, confirmed a surge of 334 more cases on Thursday morning, bringing the country’s total to 1,595. In Japan, a woman has tested positive for the virus for a second time. Asia Pacific markets mostly dropped in Thursday afternoon trade.

Meanwhile in the U.S., President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence will be in charge of the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In Europe, attention remains focused on the escalation of cases in Italy; 424 people have the virus (up from an initial three people last Friday) and 12 people have died. Although the majority of cases remain concentrated in the north, the virus has now spread to a handful of other regions and as far south as Puglia and Sicily. Trump said that the U.S. could consider restricting travel to Italy and South Korea but would not do so yet.

Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn has said his country is at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic after new cases sprung up that can no longer be traced to the virus’s original source in China.

European earnings Thursday come from Standard Chartered, WPP, RSA Group, LafargeHolcim, Aston Martin Lagonda, AB Inbev, Bovis Homes and Zalando. Euro zone data on economic sentiment and consumer confidence for February and flash inflation data for Spain in February are due.



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European markets focus on rapid spread of coronavirus

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