The daily business briefing: February 3, 2020

China stocks dive as trading resumes after Lunar New Year, U.S. imposes travel restrictions due to coronavirus, and more

A traveler in Hong Kong
(Image credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

1. China markets plunge as coronavirus fears mount

China's stock markets plunged on Monday as the government reported that the coronavirus outbreak that started in central China was continuing to expand rapidly. China's main stock indexes dropped by more than eight percent on their first day of trading after a 10-day break for the Lunar New Year holiday. It was the sharpest drop for Chinese markets in four years. Other Asian markets were steadier after falling last week. China's central bank said it would inject $174 billion worth of liquidity into the markets to help boost the economy and calm fears of an economic backlash as foreign companies and governments rush to limit contact with China in an effort to contain the outbreak.

The Washington Post Reuters

2. Trump administration imposes travel restrictions as coronavirus spreads

The Trump administration said Sunday it was imposing strict travel restrictions to help limit further spread of the coronavirus outbreak that originated in central China. The flu-like virus has killed at least 360 people in China and infected more than 17,000 people around the world, with the death toll now exceeding that of China's severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002 and 2003. Under the travel restrictions, the United States will temporarily deny entry to foreign nationals who visited China within two weeks of their arrival in the U.S. American citizens who have traveled to China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, also face travel restrictions, although administration officials said the virus still posed a "low risk" in the U.S.

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3. Apple closes China stores due to coronavirus

Apple said over the weekend that it was closing its 42 stores in mainland China "out of an abundance of caution" due to the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 360 people. The iPhone maker also is closing its corporate offices and other facilities in China until Feb. 9. "Our thoughts are with the people most immediately affected by the coronavirus and with those working around the clock to study and contain it," Apple said in a statement. China is Apple's third biggest market, after the United States and Europe.

The Associated Press

4. British government vows to set agenda in post-Brexit talks

The government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday that it would set its own course instead of following the European Union's rules as it heads into talks on its future relationship with the trading bloc. The U.K. officially exited the EU on Friday, and entered a transition period during which it will negotiate a new trade relationship with the EU. The EU has told the U.K. that its access to the 28-nation trading bloc would depend on Britain's willingness to accept a "level playing field," suggesting that it would have to adhere to EU rules on environmental protections, labor regulations, and other issues.


5. U.S. stock futures rise after Friday's dive

U.S. stock index futures gained early Monday as investors looked for bargains following Friday's plunge. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.4 percent several hours before the opening bell after falling by 2.1 percent on Friday, due to fears of a global economic backlash from the coronavirus outbreak that started in central China. The death toll from the outbreak is continuing to rise, although the vast majority of infections remained in China. Corporate earnings season also will be in focus on Monday. Google parent Alphabet reports its quarterly results after the closing bell.


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