Coronavirus fears send stocks tumbling again

World health officials have expressed “great concern” that the disease is spreading between people outside of China.

U.S. equity futures are pointing to a decline when markets begin trading on Thursday on concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

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The major futures indexes are indicating a drop of 0.8 percent, or a loss of more than 200 points on the Dow.

Shares tumbled in Europe and Asia as the impact of the virus outbreak in China expanded to include flight cancellations and other wider precautions to help stop its spread.

World health officials have expressed "great concern" that the disease is starting to spread between people outside of China.

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The World Health Organization was due to meet Thursday in Geneva to consider whether to issue a global alarm that might prompt more controls on movement inside and to and from China, resulting in greater disruptions to businesses and markets.

In Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei sank 1.7 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged 2.6 percent. Markets in China remain closed.

In Europe, London's FTSE declined 0.9 percent, Germany's DAX was down 1 percent and France's CAC fell 1.3 percent.

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The death toll from the virus rose to 170, with 7,711 people in China and elsewhere confirmed infected, as foreign evacuees from the worst-hit region in central China began returning home under close observation.

On Wednesday, stocks lost momentum on Wall Street as investors tuned in to a news conference by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES25766.64-1,190.95-4.42%
SP500S&P 5002978.76-137.63-4.42%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX8566.479823-414.29-4.61%

Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Powell acknowledged that there’s a risk the outbreak could slow the global economy. But stocks barely budged after the Fed announced would leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a low level. The move, which was widely expected, reflects the central bank’s mostly positive view of the U.S. economy.

Last year, the Fed cut its benchmark interest rate three times after having raised it four times in 2018.

Powell credits those rate cuts with revitalizing the housing market, which had stumbled early last year, and offsetting some of the drag from President Trump's trade war with China.

Investors have been assessing quarterly reports from big companies. On Thursday, Coca-Cola, UPS, Amazon and Visa are scheduled to release results.

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Caterpillar and Exxon Mobil will report results on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.