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Wall Street opens lower after stocks tumble in Europe and Asia

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Stocks are opening moderately lower on Wall Street, following declines overseas, as more worries about the spread of a virus outbreak in China and some weak earnings results put investors in a mood to sell.

UPS sank after swinging to a loss in its latest quarter, and tobacco company Altria dropped after taking a $4.1 billion hit from legal costs related to its investment in the e-cigarette maker Juul.

The S&P 500 fell 10 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 3,262. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 61, or 0.2 per cent, to 28,668, and the Nasdaq fell 10 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 9,264. In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 28.27 points to 17,483.48.

Shares tumbled in Europe and Asia on Thursday as the impact of the virus outbreak in China expanded to include flight cancellations and other wider precautions to help stop its spread.

READ MORE: From lower oil prices to a weaker loonie — how the new coronavirus could impact Canada’s economy

Taiwan’s benchmark dived 5.8 per cent as its market reopened after the Lunar New Year. Shares fell in most other markets, with the CAC 40 in Paris dropping 1.1 per cent to 5,890.00 and Germany’s DAX shedding 1 per cent to 13,215.90. In Britain, the FTSE 100 declined 0.9 per cent to 7,415.93.

The death toll from the virus rose to 170, with 7,711 people in China and elsewhere confirmed infected, as foreign evacuees from the worst-hit region in central China began returning home under close observation.

After world health officials have expressed “great concern” that the disease is starting to spread between people outside of China, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index sank 1.7 per cent to 22,977.75, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index skidded 2.6 per cent to 26,449.13.

In Australia, the S&P ASX/200 declined by 0.3 per cent to 7,008.40. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.7 per cent to 2,148.00. Shares also retreated in India and Southeast Asia. Mainland Chinese markets remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus death toll in China rises to 170 as ‘great concern’ arises over transmission

“With equity markets pumped to juicy levels by the relentless flow of cheap central bank money around the world, unexpected Wuhan-like events leave them acutely vulnerable to potentially aggressive corrections,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.

The World Health Organization was due to meet Thursday in Geneva to consider whether to issue a global alarm that might prompt more controls on movement inside and to and from China, resulting in greater disruptions to businesses and markets.

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