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ECONOMY | 21-02-2020 17:00

Coca-Cola among firms harmed by effect of coronavirus on markets

Beverage behemoth Coca-Cola says Friday that coronavirus will affect sales in the first quarter due to its impact on global markets.

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow, there have been increasing consequences for international business and global markets. 

Coca-Cola warned financial markets on Friday that the virus will affect sales in the first quarter, but the soft drink giant hopes to offset the deficit later.

This epidemic should reduce sales volumes by 2 to 3 points, and decrease turnover by 1 to 2 points, the Atlanta (Southeast) group warned in a press release. 

Profitability would not be affected: adjusted earnings per share, a reference in North America, would fall from 1 to 2 cents compared to the first quarter in 2019.

However, Coca-Cola maintains its annual financial objectives, explaining that sales lost in the first quarter are only deferred and must be recovered once things return to normal in China, its third market. 

On Friday, new outbreaks emerged for the spread of the viral pneumonia epidemic, which left China and has already killed 2,200 people.

This new coronavirus has disrupted the multinational production chains and has led to the temporary suspension of its operations in China.

Therefore, the beverage company joins the list of large companies, such as Apple, that have already warned of the harmful consequences of this epidemic for its future results.

Coronavirus fears take toll on global markets

Meanwhile, coronavirus fears weighed on global stock markets Thursday as investors headed for the exits even after China reported a big drop in new cases and eased borrowing costs to cushion the epidemic's economic impact.

After powering to a record close the day before, traders fearing the virus could spread and harm the global economy, or simply capitalizing on high prices to take profits, sent Wall Street into the red.

Vice Chair of the United States Federal Reserve Richard Clarida warned the virus could have a "noticeable impact on Chinese growth" and potentially hurt production elsewhere.

The world's second-largest economy plays a key role in global supply chains, and investors are hoping central banks will do what is necessary to protect corporate earnings and economic growth.

The People's Bank of China (PBoC) lowered prime rates for one-year and five-year loans, but the moves were "not nearly enough," said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp.

In Europe, stock markets were well down by the close, but the fall on London's FTSE 100 was not as bad as a weakening pound gave a fillip to stock prices in the export sector.

Air France-KLM shares plunged after the airline reported that the coronavirus had blown a large hole in 2020 earnings to date while separately unveiling lower profits for 2019.

After European bourses shut, the International Air Transport Association said that worldwide airline revenue lost to the virus was projected at $ 29.3 billion, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in China.

What’s more, oil prices rebounded as hopes spread that the impact of the virus on economic growth, and therefore crude demand, will be limited. 

Tech stocks take a hit 

Wall Street continued to tumble Friday, with investors seen as hesitant to hold onto shares amid fears the new coronavirus outbreak in China could threaten international markets.

Traders had pushed markets to record levels in recent sessions as fears about a significant economic hit from the virus eased, but that resolve cracked on Thursday when the three main indices finished down.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled another 1.0 percent to 28,932.10 after about 30 minutes of trading.

The broad-based S&P 500 also lost 1.0 percent to 3,338.94, and the tech-rich Nasdaq dropped 1.4 percent to 9,617.40. 

Analysts at Wells Fargo put the blame for the sell-off squarely on the virus. 

Stocks most battered in the decline were Microsoft, falling 2.3 percent, and Chevron, which dropped 1.8 percent.

Tech stocks were also not immune: Facebook fell 1.3 percent, Amazon 1.7 percent, Google-parent Alphabet 1.0 percent and Apple, which said earlier in the week it would miss its quarterly earnings because of the virus, fell 1.0 percent.

-TIMES/AFP

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