Futures slide as virus outbreak fans growth fears By Reuters

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – Caution about the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic knocked U.S. stock index futures lower on Friday, more than offsetting a boost from the latest batch of upbeat quarterly corporate earnings.

The main stock indexes were on course to round off the week on a poor note as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic a global emergency.

The fast-spreading virus has killed more than 200 people in China and infected thousands globally, while disrupting supply chains and curbing travel, prompting Wall Street economists to temper their growth expectations for the country.

Fitch Solutions said it maintained its real GDP growth forecast for China at 5.9% for 2020, but said it could drop to 5.4% because of the virus.

However, the fourth-quarter earnings season has been largely positive, with Refinitiv data showing a 0.7% rise in profit for S&P 500 companies that reported earnings through Thursday, compared with a 0.6% decline estimated at the start of the season.

Amazon.com Inc (O:) surged 10.5% in premarket trading after it trumped Wall Street estimates for holiday-quarter results, putting the online retailer back in the $1 trillion market capitalization club.

At 7:31 a.m. ET, were down 101 points, or 0.35%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 11 points, or 0.33% and were down 22.25 points, or 0.24%.

Western Digital Corp (O:) jumped 4.6% after forecasting third-quarter earnings above Wall Street expectations, while International Business Machines Corp (N:) gained 4.1% after naming a new chief executive officer.

Caterpillar Inc (N:) was down 1.8% after the industrial conglomerate forecast full-year earnings below analysts’ expectations as it struggles with sluggish global industrial activity.

Visa Inc (N:) fell 2.7% as it fell short of analysts’ estimate for first-quarter revenue and warned revenue would be crimped by incentives it provide to banking clients in 2020.

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