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S&P 500 futures slide as Gold gains on virus concerns

  • Risk-off is in full swing in Asia with the major indices reporting notable losses. 
  • Gold and other haven assets are attracting bids. 
  • Coronavirus cases outside China are increasing, forcing investors to shun risk. 

The US equity index futures are flashing red along with the Asian shares while gold is gaining ground on reports showing the number of coronavirus cases outside of China has increased.

At press time, the futures on the S&P 500 are down 1.28% or 42 points, while Australia's ASX 200 and South Korea's Kospi are shedding 2% and 2.58%, respectively. 

Gold is currently trading at $1,662 per Oz, representing a 1.12% gain on the day, having hit a high of $1,681 an hour ago. 

In the FX markets, the South Korean won is facing selling pressure. The currency fell to 1,218.35 against the dollar, the weakest since August earlier today. 

The anti-risk yen, however, has erased early gains, as evidenced by USD/JPY's recovery from 111.27 to 111.57.

The flight to safety could be associated with the emergence of clusters of infection in new countries including South Korea, Italy, and Iran, as noted by the Wall Street Journal. 

South Korea has reportedly seen a 20-fold increase in the number of infections in the five days. Meanwhile, Italy canceled some public events after coronavirus infections rose to 140 despite lockdown in the North. Additionally, reports are doing the rounds that millions of small businesses in China are facing a cash crunch may collapse if banks don't act. 

The risk sentiment may find some relief if the Chinese authorities step up policy support to help cushion the blow to the economy from a coronavirus outbreak

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