Asia stocks lower…China suspends more tariffs…Global airlines revenue warning
BEIJING (AP) – Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street lower after a rise in virus cases in South Korea refueled investor anxiety about China’s disease outbreak. Benchmarks in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney retreated. Markets had been gaining on hopes the viral outbreak that began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan might be under control. Stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data and interest rate cuts by several Asian central banks have helped to buoy sentiment. But investors were jarred by South Korea’s report of 52 new cases of the coronavirus. That renewed concern the infection is spreading in South Korea, Singapore and other Asian economies.
BEIJING (AP) – China has suspended more punitive tariffs imposed on U.S. imports following a truce in its trade war with Washington. The goods affected include industrial components and medical and factory equipment. Beijing imposed penalties after the Trump administration hiked duties on Chinese goods in 2018 in response to complaints China was hurting U.S. companies by pressuring them to hand over technology. President Donald Trump reduced some of those duties, effective last week followed the signing of a “Phase 1” agreement in January seen as a possible step toward ending their tariff war.
TOKYO (AP) – The International Air Transport Association says the outbreak of the new virus is threatening to erase $29 billion of this year’s revenue for global airlines, mostly for Chinese carriers, as travel crashes worldwide. The trade group for global airlines said Thursday the virus causing COVID-19 has the potential to cause a 13% decline in demand for Asian carriers this year. The contraction comes at a time when Asian airlines’ sales have been growing. IATA said global air traffic will be reduced by 4.7%, marking the first overall decline in such annual demand since the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Schools are shuttered, churches are telling worshipers to stay away with some mass gatherings banned as South Korea grapples with a ballooning number of cases of a new virus. The country says 204 people are confirmed infected. South Korea’s prime minister says the country has “entered an emergency phase.” The new cases are concentrated near the city of Daegu, which has 2.5 million people. Hundreds of schools due to start a new academic year have delayed reopening.
BRUSSELS (AP) – Major contributors to the European Union’s budget have blocked progress at an emergency summit, refusing to stump up more funds for the bloc’s next long-term spending package for things like farm subsidies, fighting climate change and joint European defense efforts. EU leaders argued throughout the night about the bloc’s $1.1 trillion budget for 2021-2027. Another summit in early March seems more and more likely. Every leader wants to pay as little as possible while getting as much as they can out of it but, Britain’s departure has left a 75 billion-euro budget hole.