Jan 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

Investors get bullish after WHO lauds China's coronavirus response

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press briefing on the evolution of new coronavirus epidemic. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. stocks ended the day higher on Thursday after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak that has spread to at least 19 countries, killing more than 200 people and infecting nearly 10,000, more a global emergency.

What it means: The declaration was taken as good news by bullish investors because the international organization said China's "unprecedented response" and international cooperation would "reverse the tide" and contain the outbreak.

  • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lauded the "extraordinary measures [China] has taken" in a press conference Thursday.
  • He added that there was "no reason for measures that affect international travel and trade," sparking hope that airlines could soon restart routes to China and businesses might get the green light to open their doors.
  • China's stock markets have been closed for the Lunar New Year holiday and are scheduled to open on Feb. 3.

Why it matters: The risk that the outbreak could cause further disruptions to business and drastically reduce aggregate demand from China was the outbreak's biggest risk, from a business perspective.

  • That would damage not just China's economy, but — as the world's top trading nation — it would have a major negative impact on trading partners like Japan, Germany, Australia and Brazil.
  • “Declaration of an international emergency will undoubtedly sharpen governments’ focus on protecting citizens,” Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust, a U.K. charity that funds biomedical and public health research, said in a statement.

What they're saying: "Some shorts covered after the director gave the WHO’s stamp of approval to China’s aggressive containment effort," Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiCorp, told Reuters.

  • "For now, the market’s risk lights have shifted from flickering on red to a steady shade of amber, which could bring more risk back into play."

Yes, but: Other assets, like commodities and U.S. Treasuries, suggest the coronavirus fears are far from over.

What's next: The U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for China to Level 4, telling Americans, "Do not travel to China."

  • "Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means," it added in a statement.

The last word: With most headline-grabbing companies having now reported earnings, the market will likely go back to focusing on economic reports next week.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 5,929,312 — Total deaths: 357,781 — Total recoveries — 2,385,926Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,709,996 — Total deaths: 101,002 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. States: New York to allow private businesses to deny entry to customers without masks.
  4. Public health: Louisiana Sen. Cassidy wants more frequent testing of nursing home workers.
  5. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  6. Business: Louisiana senator says young people are key to reopening the economy —U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S. and was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. military, directing users to "get the facts about COVID-19."

Why it matters: The labels were added after criticism that Twitter had fact-checked tweets from President Trump about mail-in voting, but not other false claims from Chinese Communist Party officials and other U.S. adversaries.

Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter, round two

President Trump is escalating his response to Twitter’s fact check of his recent tweets about mail-in voting, issuing an executive order that's designed to begin limiting social media's liability protections. Dan digs in with Axios' Margaret Harding McGill.

Go deeper: Twitter vs. Trump... vs. Twitter

56 mins ago - Politics & Policy