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Fri. 9:18 a.m.: Global shares steady but virus concerns keep buying in check

A worker wearing a protective suit gestures in front of an infrared temperature machine today in the lobby of the Shanghai Stock Exchange building in Shanghai, China. Asian shares mostly fell today as investors turned cautious following a surge in cases of a new virus in China that threatens to crimp economic growth and hurt businesses worldwide. (AP Photo)

LONDON (AP) — Global shares recovered their poise today though continuing concerns about the economic impact of the virus outbreak that began in China kept market gains in check.

On Thursday, concerns related to the outbreak accentuated when new figures showed a sharp increases in the number of cases and deaths after China changed its method of counting them. Shares fell sharply following a period when concerns over the outbreak had dissipated.

“The consensus view amongst investors is that the maximum economic and financial effect of the virus is in the current quarter, with equity markets approximately tracking the 3-4 week time-line recovery seen in the SARS outbreak in 2003,” said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

“Our view is that the economic effects are likely to spill over into the second quarter as it is unlikely that production lines, supply chains and travel restrictions will return to normal.”

The market outlook for the rest of the year could largely hinge on how the outbreak develops.

Today, in Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.3 percent at 13,783 while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat at 7,452. The CAC-40 in France was 0.1 percent lower at 6,087.

U.S. stocks were also headed for a fairly flat opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent.

Earlier in Asia, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.6 percent to finish at 23,659.14 after Japan reported its first death linked to the virus. Japan now has more than 250 confirmed cases, almost all on a cruise ship docked and quarantined in Yokohama.

Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4 percent to 7,130.20. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.5 percent to 2,243.59 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.3 percent to 27,800.51. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.4 percent to 2,917.01.

ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose 60 cents to $52.02 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 68 cents to $57.04 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The euro was flat at $1.0872 while the dollar was steady at 109.84 yen.