U.S. stock indexes fell after Monday’s opening amid rising worries about the viral outbreak that started in Wuhan, China.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 440 points, or 1.52 percent. The S&P 500 dropped 1.32 percent. The Nasdaq Composite fell 1.75 percent. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies tumbled 1.7 percent.
Efforts by Chinese authorities to contain the coronavirus appear to be failing. At least 81 people have died and more than 2,900 people have been infected. Over the weekend, a local official said that as many as 5 million people had left Wuhan before the city was placed on lockdown, raising concerns that people traveling home for the holidays may have spread the virus much more widely than initially thought.
Five cases have been confirmed in the U.S.
Also heightening concerns have been reports that the virus can be spread before those infected show symptoms, making infections harder to detect among travelers. Past viral outbreaks, such as Ebola and SARS, were contained in part by screening travelers for symptoms.
Markets in Europe were off sharply as well. In London, the FTSE 100 fell by more than 2 percent. The DAX, a prominent index for German and European companies, fell 2.4 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei dropped by around 2 percent. Markets in China, Hong Kong, and South Korea were closed for the lunar holiday.
Hotel and airline stocks plunged. Shares of Wynn Resorts, which has a big operation in Asia gambling capital Macau, fell 7.6 percent. Shares of Las Vegas Sands fell 6.2 percent. American Airlines shares were off 7 percent.
The price of oil fell on concerns that a slowdown in global travel and reduced economic activity in China could douse demand.
Government bond prices rose, pushing down yields, as investors moved money into so-called “safe haven” securities. Yields on U.S. Treasuries, German bunds, U.K. gilts, and Japanese government bonds were all lower Monday.