South Korea confirms first death from COVID-19; Hubei extends work suspension

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A disinfection worker in protective gear sterilizes a restaurant against the novel coronavirus, also known as Wuhan coronavirus, in Tong-in Market placed in the center of Seoul, on February 07, 2020.

Woohae Cho

7.14 pm: Mixed signals from European firms over coronavirus impact

European companies have been sending mixed signals over the potential financial impact from the epidemic. Anglo-Dutch airline group Air France-KLM warned on Thursday that the hit to earnings from the virus could top as much as $200 million. Earlier, French firm Schneider Electric said it expected the virus to cost it around 300 million euros ($324 million) in the first quarter, due to factory closures in China. Shipping giant Moller Maersk also said its 2020 outlook is impacted by the outbreak. It expects freight rates to drop due to to reduced demand for containerized goods transport.

Not all companies are so downbeat, however: The CFO of carmaker BMW said the company had no indications that it could have supply issues due to the virus. Oil giant Shell said Thursday that while it saw weak market conditions “due to record new supply coming in, two successive mild winters and the Coronavirus situation, we expect equilibrium to return, driven by a combination of continued demand growth and reduction in new supply coming on-stream until the mid-2020s.”

7:06 pm: Apple iPhone maker Foxconn says it will cautiously restart production in China

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics and the biggest assembler of Apple products, said Thursday it is cautiously restarting production at its main plants in China, Reuters reported, but it warned revenue will be hurt this year by the coronavirus epidemic.

6.15 pm: China’s Hubei province asks firms not to resume work before March 11 due to Coronovirus

China’s Hubei province has asked firms not to resume work before March 11 due to the outbreak, although those involved in epidemic prevention and control and public utilities are exempt. The suspension of work for many firms was due to end on February 21.

In a statement on its official Weibo account, the province said schools are not to re-open until further notice. – Holly Ellyatt

4.22 pm: South Korea reports first death from the coronavirus

South Korea reported its first death from the coronavirus on Thursday. The country’s Center for Disease Control (KCDC) reported 22 new confirmed cases of the virus, with the deceased among that number. The cause of death is under investigation. – Holly Ellyatt

3.51 pm: China Commerce Ministry official warns of possible long-term impact of coronavirus on key sectors

An official from China’s commerce ministry has identified the industries that will be heavily impacted if the coronavirus lasts a relatively long time.

Li Xinggan, director of the department of foreign trade at the Ministry of Commerce, told a press conference that “according to continuous monitoring of key areas and industries, if the (virus) continues to persist for a while, agriculture, food and labor-intensive industries with a long industrial chain are expected to be affected more,” he said, according to a CNBC translation of his remarks. – Holly Ellyatt

2:57 pm: Japan confirms two elderly passengers from Diamond Princess died

Japan’s ministry of health has confirmed the deaths of two passengers who were on board the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship which was under quarantine at Yokohama Port, near Tokyo.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said on its website that a male passenger and a female passenger, both in their 80s, died after returning from the cruise ship where more than 600 people were infected. Both were residents of Japan.

Separately, an employee of the health ministry, and a staff member of the Cabinet Secretariat were also infected with the virus, the ministry’s said. Both worked on the Diamond Princess. — Joanna Tan

1:25 pm: Macao casinos reopen after two-week suspension

Macao casinos were set to reopen on Thursday, following a two-week suspension in a bid to control the virus outbreak.

The city’s gaming regulator, however, imposed strict rules at the casinos, according to a report by the South China Morning Post. People at the tables were required to wear masks, and only half the tables at the gaming floor were allowed to be open, to ensure sufficient distance between people, according to the report.

Casino operators that include Wynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China and Galaxy Entertainment said they will reopen progressively, according to the SCMP report. They have 30 days to open fully, it said. Shares of those Hong Kong-listed operators were down in afternoon trade. Wynn Macau fell around 1%, Sands China tumbled 2.49%, Galaxy Entertainment declined 1.21%. — Weizhen Tan

12:46 pm: Hong Kong and Mongolia among those most exposed to virus fallout, Fitch says

Fitch Ratings said Hong Kong and Mongolia are most exposed to the economic fallout from the virus as their “economic linkages to China are most pronounced.”

In Hong Kong, “the virus is adding to economic strains that were already elevated as a result of the territory’s political unrest,” Fitch said in its press release. “Unresolved social cleavages combined with the consecutive political and economic shocks will test the resilience of Hong Kong’s business environment, and may undermine its fundamental credit metrics, as reflected in the Negative Outlook.” — Joanna Tan

Military medics standing in line after they deplaned a transport aircraft of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force at Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province on Feb. 17, 2020.

Li He | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

12:01 pm: Indonesia wants to evacuate its citizens on board the Diamond Princess

Indonesia will help evacuate its citizens on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the country’s chief development minister Muhadjir Effendy told reporters, according to Reuters. The coronavirus-stricken cruise ship is currently docked in Japan, near Tokyo.

The Indonesian government has yet to decide on whether to bring back its 74 nationals on a plane or a naval vessel, Effendy reportedly said. Citing a foreign ministry official, Reuters also reported that Indonesians who were part of the crew on the cruise liner were infected. — Joanna Tan

11:33 am: Fitch says Singapore’s rating not in jeopardy though it’s among those most affected

Fitch Ratings said Singapore will be among the most affected by the virus outbreak, despite setting aside $4 billion in its budget to prop up its economy. But it says Singapore’s public finances are still on “sound footing,” and its larger budget deficit won’t affect the Southeast Asian nation’s “AAA” rating. — Weizhen Tan

11:07 am: Two passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship die, Japanese media report

Two passengers from the Diamond Princess have died, according to Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, citing government sources. The two were a man and a woman in their 80s who were infected with the new coronavirus, according to NHK.

The Diamond Princess has been docked at Yokohama near Tokyo since Feb. 3, with an initial 3,700 passengers, and more than 600 have since been found infected. Passengers started disembarking the cruise ship this week. On Wednesday, one group left, and on Thursday morning, another group of around 500 passengers were set to leave. Over 70 cases have been confirmed in Japan. — Weizhen Tan

10:07 am: China says there were 114 additional deaths and 394 new cases

China’s National Health Commission reported an additional 114 deaths, and 394 new confirmed cases as of Feb. 19. That brings the total deaths in the mainland to 2,118 and the confirmed cases to 74,576 cases.

The number of new cases was drastically lower than the 1,749 reported the day before.

Hubei reported 349 new confirmed cases, after the removal of 279 cases with negative nucleic acid test results. On Wednesday, China released the “No. 6 trial” measures for virus prevention and control, which removed a classification for Hubei that allowed the province to include a “clinically diagnosed” category.

What was previously termed “clinically diagnosed,” or those confirmed through CT scans and symptoms, will now fall under the “suspected” category. They will no longer be counted as “confirmed” cases like they were in the previous diagnosis protocol. — Weizhen Tan, Evelyn Cheng

9:40 am: China cuts a key lending rate to help boost economy

China’s central bank cut the loan prime rate on Thursday in a widely-anticipated move that will help lower borrowing costs for businesses, and prop up the economy that is reeling from the virus outbreak.
The one-year loan prime rate was reduced by 10-basis points — from 4.15% in January to 4.05% in February. The five-year LPR was lowered by 5-basis points — from 4.8% to 4.75%.

The LPR is the interest rate that banks charge their most creditworthy customers. In August last year, the People’s Bank of China changed the way commercial lenders set interest rates for loans. — Joanna Tan

9:12 am: South Korea says another 31 new cases found

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed another 31 new cases, bringing the total number of people infected to 82.

One case was identified in the capital of Seoul, the rest were in the city of Daegu and the Gyengbuk province, KCDC said. — Joanna Tan

8:30 am: Australians on board the Diamond Princess return home for quarantine, more passengers to disembark

More than 150 Australians have disembarked the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked off Japan, and have arrived back in their country, according to Reuters. They will serve out a two-week quarantine.

They arrived in Darwin on Thursday morning, according to the report. A second group of about 600 passengers — Japanese and other nationalities — are set to disembark the ship on Thursday as well, according to a separate Reuters report.

The Diamond Princess has been docked at Yokohama near Tokyo since Feb. 3, with an initial 3,700 passengers, and more than 600 have since been found infected. — Weizhen Tan

7:58 am: Hubei reports an additional 108 deaths bringing total fatalities in province to 2,029

Hubei’s health authorities reported there were 108 additional fatalities on Feb. 19, bringing the total number of people who died in the province to 2,029.

The Hubei Provincial Health Committee reported there were 349 new cases on Feb. 19 — down from 1,693 newly confirmed cases the day before. The commission stated that 349 was the final tally after deducting 279 cases from 10 Hubei cities. According to Reuters, the number of new cases reported daily is a net figure including such deductions. That means the number of new cases on Wednesday stood at 628, when the deductions were removed.

The virus — believed to have first emerged from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province — has killed more than 2,000 people so far. Less than 10 people outside the mainland have died from the virus. — Joanna Tan

A Chinese woman slides steam buns down a ramp used to prevent touching and contact as the customer takes his order at a local take out on February 19, 2020 in Beijing, China.

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

All times below are in Eastern time.

5:06 pm: Markets may face ‘pretty serious reckoning’ as coronavirus slows growth

The coronavirus may significantly weaken a global economy that was already in a precarious position, Yale University’s Stephen Roach told CNBC. “If the global economy is as weak as I think it is in the first half of this year, that points to a pretty serious reckoning for frothy financial markets,” the former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman said on “Closing Bell.” Investors have been trying to make sense of what the coronavirus means for businesses since late January. And yet, the market has only seen a few pullbacks in that stretch as the major U.S. stock indexes continue to set fresh highs. — Stankiewicz

4:23 pm: Goldman says market underestimating virus risk: ‘Correction is looking much more probable’

Goldman Sachs sounded the alarm to clients about a possible correction in the stock market, noting investors are underestimating how big of a risk the coronavirus really is. “We believe the greater risk is that the impact of the coronavirus on earnings may well be underestimated in current stock prices, suggesting that the risks of a correction are high,” strategist Peter Oppenheimer wrote in a note. Oppenheimer thinks the market could be in trouble if earnings expectations aren’t ratcheted down. “Equity markets are looking increasingly exposed to near-term downward surprises to earnings growth,” said Oppenheimer. “While a sustained bear market does not look likely, a near-term correction is looking much more probable.” — Imbert

2:41 pm: CDC issues travel guidelines for Hong Kong after second coronavirus-related death

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines on Wednesday for American travelers to Hong Kong after the city reported its second death from the new coronavirus. Travelers to Hong Kong should avoid contact with sick people, the CDC said, and regularly wash their hands. It is the CDC’s lowest-level travel warning, but it is the first coronavirus-related travel notice issued by the U.S. government for a territory beyond mainland China. — Feuer

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: Fed sees risk to global growth, markets face ‘pretty serious reckoning’

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng, Eunice Yoon, Fred Imber and Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this report.

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