USA stocks fall 600 points on coronavirus worries


Feb 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Monday as gains in Amazon and Nike as well as a surprise rebound in U.S. factory activity helped markets attempt a recovery from steep weekly losses due to concerns about the coronavirus epidemic.

Bond yields rose, while the Japanese yen and Swiss franc retreated as risk sentiment improved despite a rising infection rate and death toll from the coronavirus outbreak.

Health authorities released updated figures of 361 deaths and more than 17,000 confirmed cases. All fatalities have occurred in China, with the exception of a Chinese man who died in the Philippines after traveling from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Oil prices, meanwhile, fell on worries that the outbreak will reduce Chinese energy consumption.

Virus concerns certainly have not faded, as confirmed cases and deaths continue to rise and China's Shanghai Composite plunged almost 8% after an extended holiday break, but US investors appear intent on taking advantage of last week's market losses at least in the early going.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.6% to 23,104.76, while the Kospi in South Korea jumped 2% to 2,158.30.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its manufacturing index rose to 50.9 in January from 47.2 in December. A manufacturing reading in the USA topped estimates. S. economic data and a mixed batch of corporate earnings. "With Q1/20 GDP likely to fall sharply, we expect Beijing to respond aggressively with fiscal and monetary stimulus to get growth on track in Q2/20".

"The market is still, for the most part, in the fear mode, but as traders consume more economic data fallout, the hit to the real economy should become more apparent".

"These initial interventions aim to boost confidence, but they are unlikely to be sufficient to curtail a sharp downturn in Q1", Citi economists said in a note.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.31% and its emerging market index lost 0.14%.

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The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.2%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 365 points, or 1.29 per cent, to 28,621.18 as of around 10:30am local time in NY.

The S&P 500 opened higher by 31.69 points, or 0.98%, at 3,280.61.

The pound slid after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out tough terms for European Union talks, rekindling fears Britain would reach the end of an 11-month transition period without reaching a trade deal.

Sterling traded at $1.3, down 1.51% on the day and the dollar index rose 0.42%.

The dollar firmed to ¥108.68, from an overnight low of 108.30, while the euro faded a fraction to US$1.1059 but remained well within recent snug ranges.

In the United Kingdom, the British pound fell 1.6% against the USA dollar.

The March crude contract was down 58 cents at US$51.56 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was up 1.2 cents at US$1.84 per mmBTU.

The virus outbreak has cast a shadow over the initially upbeat start to 2020, as the US and China signed a trade deal that eased a big source of uncertainty and raised hopes a global slowdown might have bottomed out.