January 30, 2020 / 12:54 PM / 23 days ago

US STOCKS-Futures fall as China epidemic raises growth concerns

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* Futures down: Dow 0.67%, S&P 0.69%, Nasdaq 0.56%

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures tumbled on Thursday, as the deadly coronavirus epidemic fanned concerns of a further slowdown in economic growth in China, with a mixed batch of corporate earnings from U.S. technology firms also weighing on sentiment.

Facebook Inc fell 7.4% in premarket trading after the social media giant said growth would continue to slow as its business matured and it reported a surge in quarterly expenses.

The flu-like virus, which originated in China and has spread to over 15 countries, has disrupted global travel and caused several companies to suspend operations in China, sparking a sharp sell-off in financial markets on fears of the inevitable hit to growth in the world’s No. 2 economy.

The World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee is due to reconvene on Thursday to decide whether to declare the virus a global emergency.

“The economic impact on China hinges on the ability of the Chinese government to contain the virus and its policy actions to mitigate the impact,” Rabobank analysts wrote in a note.

“Even if the virus outbreak turns out be comparable to SARS, its global economic effects are likely to be larger than in 2002/2003, as China has a much bigger share in the global economy nowadays.”

In its first estimate of fourth-quarter U.S. GDP due later in the day, the Commerce Department is expected to report the economy expanded at a 2.1% annualized rate, falling short of the Trump administration’s 3% annual growth target.

At 7:19 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis dropped 191 points, or 0.67%. S&P 500 e-minis fell 22.5 points, or 0.69% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 50.5 points, or 0.56%.

The main Wall Street indexes remain on course for their second weekly decline, despite relatively upbeat fourth-quarter earnings reports.

Overall, analysts expect profit for S&P 500 companies to be flat in the fourth quarter versus a 0.6% decline estimated at the start of the season, according to Refinitiv data.

Microsoft Corp gained 3.3% after it reported quarterly sales and profit above Wall Street expectations, driven by acceleration of Azure cloud computing revenue growth.

Tesla Inc shares, which have surged about 39% this year, jumped 11.6% gain after the electric carmaker posted its second quarterly profit in a row as vehicle deliveries hit a record. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru)

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