NEW YORK, New York - Travel companies including airlines, hotel chains, and casino operators, saw their shares fall several percentage points on Tuesday, over fears a virus outbreak in China could spread internationally.
The Wuhan coronoavirus has already killed at least six people in China, and 1 in Taiwan. Hundreds have fallen sick with the virus, including 300 alone in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, according to Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang.
A U.S. man, from Snohomish County, Washington, who recently visited Wuhan, has also contracted the virus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Tuesday.
He is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington.
"The fear is this could mushroom into an epidemic that could cut into economic activity," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York told the Reuters Thomson news agency on Tuesday. "If it turns into an epidemic, who's going to fly?"
At the close of trading Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrials had fallen 152.06 points or 0.52% to 29,196.04.
The Standard and Poor's 500 dropped 8.83 points or 0.27% to 3,320.79.
The Nasdaq Composite fell 18.14 points or 0.19% to 9,370.81.
On foreign exchange markets there was little movement. The euro remained around the 1.1092 area. The British pound picked up a little momentum to trade higher at 1.3048. The Japanese yen made modest gains to 109.81. The Swiss franc inched down to 0.9684.
The Canadian dollar weakened slightly to 1.3076. The Australian dollar fell to 0.6846.
The New Zealand dollar was little changed at 0.6594.
In London, the FTSE 100 weakened by 0.53%. The German Dax advanced slightly by 0.05%. The Paris-based CAC 40 sagged 0.54%.
There was major damage in Asia as fears the coronoviras could become another SARS, which ravaged the region several years ago.
The Nikkei 225 in Japan was down 218.95 points or 0.91% at 23,864.56.
China's Shanghai Composite fell by 43.65 points or 1.41% to 3,052.14.
The Australian All Ordinaries slipped 15.80 points or 0.22% to 7,180.50.
But the real damage was in Hong Kong, the epicenter of the SARS crisis. The Hang Seng dived 776.06 points or 2.70% to 28,019.85.
(Photo credit: GNA).