NEW YORK — Stocks rose in much of the world Monday and recovered some of their losses from earlier weeks, but markets are still far from giving the all-clear on the virus that has spread to more than 20 countries and infected more than 17,000 people.
Chinese stocks tumbled nearly 8% after investors there got a chance to catch up to losses that already swept through other markets. Monday was the first day of trading in more than a week in Shanghai, and the losses would likely have been bigger if not for moves by Chinese authorities, including the pumping of $173 billion into the financial system.
In the United States, meanwhile, a warning signal of recession in the bond market continued to flash red. The price of crude oil also kept sliding on worries that a global economy weakened by the virus will burn less fuel, and prices fell for copper and other building blocks of the economy.
The S&P 500 rose 23.40 points, or 0.7%, to 3,248.92 and clawed back some of its losses following its first back-to-back weekly drops of 1% since August. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 143.78, or 0.5%, to 28,399.81, and the Nasdaq composite climbed 122.47, or 1.3%, to 9,273.40. Each of the three indexes remains 1.4% to 3.2% below their records set last month.
All the unsettled trading is a sharp departure from 2019, which saw stocks and bonds make powerful moves higher, and it’s the result of growing uncertainty.
Nobody knows how much the virus will ultimately hurt economies and corporate profits, let alone human lives, around the world. Past disease outbreaks have seen stocks hit bottom when the number of new cases peaked.
This new virus that first spread from China has already shut factories there, halted some global air traffic and caused economists to cut their 2020 growth forecasts for China, the world’s second-largest economy.
The most immediate threat seems to be for travel and tourism companies.
But with supply chains running around the world and China providing more revenue to S&P 500 companies than any country besides the United States, CEOs from a wide range of industries have said they expect some kind of hit to their businesses.
The yield curve is a tool inside the bond market which investors see as a rather reliable predictor of recessions, though it doesn’t have a perfect track record. It triggers when it becomes “inverted,” or when short-term Treasurys offer higher yields than longer-term Treasurys.
On Monday, the three-month yield was at 1.56%, above the 1.52% yield of the 10-year, which itself rose from 1.51% late Friday.