China reports 52 deaths from coronavirus
Health authorities in China reported 52 new deaths from coronavirus up to the end of Tuesday, with all fatalities in Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak. That took the total number of deaths to 2,715. The country had reported 71 deaths for the previous day.
There were 406 new cases of the virus in the mainland on Tuesday, taking the total number to 78,064. There were 508 reported cases on Monday.
Virgin Australia forecasts $50m hit from low demand
Jamie Smyth reports from Sydney
Virgin Australia Group has warned the coronavirus outbreak could cost it A$50-75m ($33m-$49.5m) in the six months to end June due to weaker demand, prompting the struggling carrier to slash flight capacity and restructure its fleet.
Australia’s second biggest airline said on Wednesday it would retire 12 aircraft by October 2020 to cut costs, a move which would reduce overall flight capacity by 3 per cent in 2020 and 5 per cent in 2021.
“The coronavirus outbreak is having a significant effect on the travel industry and we are also seeing weaker domestic and international demand,” said Paul Scurrah, Virgin Australia chief executive. “We are responding to this with immediate steps to minimise impact to the Group’s financial position.”
Virgin unveiled the shake-up as it reported an A$88.6m loss after tax for the six months to end 2019, compared to a profit of A$73.8m in the same period last year.
Asia stocks fall after Wall Street sell-off
Stocks in Asia-Pacific dropped on Wednesday morning, following on from a sharp sell-off on Wall Street on a warning over the spread of the coronavirus in the US and new cases in Europe.
South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.6 per cent as the number of cases in the country neared 1,200, while the Topix in Japan was down 1.5 per cent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 2 per cent.
Wall Street fell for the second consecutive day on Tuesday as US health officials warned Americans to prepare for the spread of coronavirus. The S&P 500 tumbled 3 per cent, taking its losses since a record high last Wednesday to 7.6 per cent. S&P 500 futures appeared more steady, rising 0.4 per cent.
Officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the need to prepare for person-to-person transmission in the US and said it was no longer a question of if the virus would spread in the country, but when and how many people would be affected.
Gold, which is seen as a haven in times of uncertainty was up 0.5 per cent at $1,643 an ounce. The yield on 10-year US Treasuries was a touch higher after a rush to the safety of government debt pushed it to a record intraday low on Tuesday.
“The potential economic impacts [from coronavirus] remain highly uncertain,” ANZ said in a note. “Reduced trade and people flows, workplace absenteeism, supply chain disruption, and the impact on consumer and business sentiment are all going to weigh on growth.”