Europe Seen Lower Amid Economic and Virus Concerns By

© Reuters.

By Peter Nurse – European stock markets are set to open lower Friday as weak economic numbers out of France and Germany add to concerns about the coronavirus, whose death toll topped 200 overnight.

At 02:20 ET (0720 GMT), the contract traded 62 points, or 0.5% lower. France’s were down 6 points, or 0.1%, while the contract in the U.K. fell 20 points, or 0.3%. Futures on the pan-eurozone index, the , dropped 6 points, or 0.2%.

The French economy, the euro zone’s second largest, unexpectedly contracted in the final quarter of last year. Gross domestic product dropped 0.1% from the previous three months, when it grew 0.3%. Meanwhile in Germany, the region’s largest economy, the news wasn’t healthy either. Its retail sales slumped 3.3% on the month in December, after jumping by 1.6% in November.

The nationwide death toll in China’s coronavirus outbreak has risen to 213, with nearly 10,000 infected, according to official figures released on Friday.

The extent of the outbreak has prompted the World Health Organization to declare the coronavirus a global health emergency, but it also backed China’s efforts to contain the outbreak, calming fears of a global pandemic.

“I have seen the capacity and I believe (China) will control this outbreak as soon as possible,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on the heels of the global health emergency declaration.

The WHO has money set aside for these kinds of emergencies, but additional funding may now be secured to treat and prevent the spread of the virus. The decision is also likely to result in a more coordinated response.

This all comes on the day that the U.K. leaves the European Union after 47 years, an event whose significance is admittedly more emotional than economic in the near term.

Turning to corporate news, Amazon (NASDAQ:) posted bumper numbers for the fourth quarter late Thursday, as the e-commerce giant’s sales soared over the Christmas season, rising 21% from the previous year. Its share price jumped more than 10% in after-hours trade.

The confidence of the WHO that the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus can be dealt with also helped the oil market rebound from three-month lows.

AT 02:20 AM ET (0720 GMT), futures traded 1.6% higher at $52.95 and the international benchmark contract rose 1.2% to $58.33. for February delivery on New York’s COMEX, by contrast, were 0.6% lower at $1,573.60.

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