Effects of Coronavirus Felt By Canadian, US Markets

The price of gold is trending higher today while the S&P 500 index is down 100 basis points as global fears of the China-sourced coronavirus mount. Continued travel restrictions within the country of China have further added to fears of the emergence of a global epidemic as more cases are reported as being confirmed.

As of the time of writing, sixteen Chinese cities are currently engaged in lockdown conditions as a means of preventing the further spread of the fast moving virus. The combined population, which is in excess of 46 million people, has grown significantly over the last few days as more and more experience restricted travel. The increase to sixteen total cities under lockdown procedures is an increase from fourteen which was seen only hours earlier.

The novel coronavirus, referred to as 2019-nCoV, is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan City in Hubei Province. Originally thought to be a new variant of pneumonia, it was later to be identified as a coronavirus, from the same family of viruses that contain the common cold as well as other viruses such as SARS and MERS.

The latest reporting by the World Health Organization (WHO), published in “situation report 3”, identifies that there were 581 confirmed cases of the virus, of which 571 were in China, which resulted in a total death count of 17. However, statistical modelling conducted by the organization suggest that the estimated number of cases based on baseline assumptions is 4,000 individuals had on-set symptoms by January 18, 2020 within Wuhan City alone. However, the virus, which spreads via human-to-human contact, has shown that there is a mean 10-day delay between infection and detection. Compounded with significant travel within China as a result of the Chinese New Year, it can result in significant ramifications both within China as well as globally.

In the time since the WHO’s latest report however, China has confirmed that the total number of confirmed cases within the mainland had risen to 830, while the death toll had risen to 25 within the country.

Outside of China, the virus continues to see a suspected spread as well, with the second confirmed US case being announced this morning involving a Chicago woman who arrived home on January 13 and began experiencing symptoms of the virus days later. There are currently 63 potential cases under investigation within America, while 11 have been confirmed as being negative. No confirmed cases of the virus exist within Canada as of yet. The CDC has since come out as saying, “The CDC does not believe that, in the time before symptoms develop, the patients are able to be contagious.” However, health officials are still in the early stages of beginning to understand the virus and its associated symptoms.

Despite official stances on the matter, social media has been rife with the belief that the current situation is worse than government officials have been letting on. The largest argument in favor of this notion thus far, is the fact that China has locked down 16 cities and numerous cultural sites during the Chinese New Year, which is typically a week long celebration within the country. Lockdowns involve all modes of transport, including bus, subway, ferries, trains and airplanes, effectively stopping anyone from entering or exiting the city.

Numerous videos have also surfaced online, with claims being made that the situation on the ground is much worse, evidenced by apparent videos of the ill and deceased within restricted cities.

US markets have bounced around significantly given the current status of the virus, with the S&P 500 dipping as low as 3,281 during one point today, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping below 29,000, off from its day high of 29,288. North of the board, the S&P TSX Composite has also felt the pressure, with the index falling as low as 17,514 from the days high of 17,646. The price of gold has mean while responded positively to the news, with investors viewing the metal as a safe haven during times of turmoil, with the spot price rising as high as $1,575 at one point during today’s session.

The author has no securities or affiliations related to any organization mentioned. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.