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Five Things to Know in World Business Today


By Lorcan Roche Kelly

(Bloomberg) China outbreak worsens, oil falls to three-month low, and Senate Republicans face new pressure to call impeachment witnesses. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Rising toll

China’s coronavirus has lead to the deaths of at least 80 people with confirmed domestic cases jumping to 2,744, according to the latest data from the National Health Commission. Efforts to stop the spread of the disease are increasing with authorities announcing the extension of the Lunar New Year holiday by three days until Sunday. Aside from the human cost, the economic fallout is growing. A rush to safety has halted the seven-week rally in emerging markets while the offshore yuan slid to the weakest level this year.

Oil trouble

The commodity market is showing some of the biggest moves as investor concern heightens over the long-term effects of the China outbreak. Crude futures have tumbled to the lowest level in more than three months, with Brent dropping to $58.73 a barrel by 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time. Not even a fresh attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad was enough to curb the selloff in the commodity. The volatility may prove a boon for oil trading houses coming off a record year in 2019.

Bolton book

Pressure is rising on Senate Republicans to allow for new witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Over the weekend the New York Times reported that a book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton contained a first-hand account of Trump wanting to freeze aid to Ukraine until the country agreed to investigate his political rivals. The president denied the conversation took place and said Bolton appeared to be trying to sell books. In the Senate today, Trump’s lawyers will continue their defense.

Markets tumble

Markets are gripped by fears over the deadly virus. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.8% while Japan’s Topix index ended the session 1.6% lower, wiping out gains for the year. In Europe the Stoxx 600 Index had dropped 2% by 5:45 a.m. with resource stocks hit particularly hard while a disappointing German Ifo showed a further decline in the business outlook. S&P 500 futures pointed to a significant drop at the open and Treasuries rallied with the 10-year yield falling to 1.613%.

Coming up…

There is another look at the U.S. housing market which has been producing some very strong numbers recently at 10:00 a.m. when new homes sales data for December is released. Dallas Fed January manufacturing is at 10:30 a.m. The Treasury will sell 2- year and 5-year notes at 1:00 p.m. Among the companies reporting earnings today are Sprint Corp., Whirlpool Corp., and D.R. Horton Inc.



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