Global stocks fall sharply amid surge in COVID-19 cases around the world

U.S. stocks fell sharply in early trading Monday, following a broad sell-off in overseas markets, as a surge in virus cases and a worrisome spread of the disease outside the epicenter in China sent investors running for safety.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 840 points, or 2.9 per cent, to 28,146 and gave up all of its gains for the year. The S&P 500 index skidded 2.7 per cent and gave up most of its gains for 2020. The Nasdaq fell 3.2 per cent.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 284.48 points at 17,559.05.

More than 79,000 people worldwide have been infected by the new coronavirus. China, where the virus originated, still has the majority of cases and deaths. But, the rapid spread to other countries is raising anxiety about the threat the outbreak poses to the global economy.

South Korea is now on its highest alert for infectious diseases after cases there spiked. Italy reported a sharp rise in cases and a dozen towns in the northern part of that country are under quarantine. The nation now has the biggest outbreak in Europe, prompting officials to cancel Venice’s famed Carnival, along with soccer matches and other public gatherings.

Germany’s DAX slid 4 per cent and Italy’s benchmark index dropped 5.6 per cent. South Korea’s Kospi shed 3.8% and markets in Asia fell broadly.

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