Stocks drift near flat as virus impact weighed, oil on track for weekly gain

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Major world stock indexes were little changed on Friday as investors further assessed the economic fallout of China’s coronavirus outbreak, while oil prices were on track for their first weekly gain since early January. An upbeat forecast from Nvidia (NVDA.O) offset some of the U.S. equity market concerns, and helped to lift the Nasdaq and S&P 500 slightly. Chinese health authorities reported more than 5,000 new cases of coronavirus on Friday. “Investors are definitely keeping an eye on how much the coronavirus is spreading and where it spreads to. It still remains the biggest risk going forward,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York. A recent Reuters poll showed the world’s second-biggest economy will grow at its slowest pace since the financial crisis in the current quarter but the downturn will be short-lived if the outbreak is contained. Some investors said they thought the economic impact of the outbreak would not be as deep as feared, with some also finding succour in a spread beyond China that is not as rapid as feared. MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.03%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 9.14 points, or 0.03%, to 29,414.17, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 5.31 points, or 0.16%, to 3,379.25 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 30.28 points, or 0.31%, to 9,742.25. The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.12%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.1% for a weekly gain of almost 2%. China’s blue-chip CSI300 shares .CSI300, meanwhile, rose 0.7%, having staged a stunning recovery to claw back 95% of their losses made after the outbreak. Oil rose and was on track for its first weekly gain since early January, backed by expectations producers will implement deeper output cuts to offset slowing demand in China caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Brent LCOc1 was last at $57.01, up 1.19% on the day. U.S. crude CLc1 rose 0.91% to $51.89 per barrel. In currency markets, the dollar index .DXY rose 0.05%, with the euro EUR= up 0.03% to $1.0843. Concerns about growth in the eurozone are expected to keep weighing on the single currency. U.S. Treasury yields declined as investors bought safe-haven government debt ahead of a long holiday weekend after soft retail sales data and amid the continuing virus concerns in China. Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 10/32 in price to yield 1.585%, from 1.617% late on Thursday. For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets, please click on: [LIVE/]

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