Futures tread water as investors weigh coronavirus impact

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© Reuters. Futures tread water as investors weigh coronavirus impact© Reuters. Futures tread water as investors weigh coronavirus impact

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were flat on Monday after Wall Street’s rise last week, with investors monitoring the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak and company updates as workers returned to work in China.

The death toll from the epidemic has now surpassed that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from 2002-2003 and the World Health Organization said the number of cases outside China could be just “the tip of the iceberg”.

Apple Inc (O:) slipped 0.9% in premarket trading as its supplier Foxconn (TW:) struggled to fully resume its factories in China.

Analysts expect China’s smartphone sales may plunge by as much as 50% in the first quarter, as many retail shops remain shuttered for an extended period and companies struggle to restart production.

On the other hand, electric carmaker Tesla Inc (O:) jumped 9.2% as its Shanghai factory returned to service with assistance to help it cope with the spreading epidemic after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.

At 7:04 a.m. ET, were down 19 points, or 0.07%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.5 point, or 0.02% and were up 5.75 points, or 0.06%.

The three main Wall Street indexes retreated from record highs on Friday but still the S&P 500 () ended its best week in eight months, and the Nasdaq recorded its biggest weekly rise in more than a year after China’s efforts to limit the impact of the virus.

This week, a slew of earnings reports from consumer discretionary companies and U.S. retail sales data could help investors determine to what extent the coronavirus is hitting consumer demand.

Markets will also watch out for Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s two-day address to the U.S. Congress starting Tuesday, especially for commentary related to the China-linked virus.

Among other stocks, L Brands Inc (N:) climbed 6% after a report that the retailer was nearing a deal to sell Victoria’s Secret to Sycamore Partners.

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