Markets around the world suffer instability amid tensions over the spread of the coronavirus.

A woman walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, January 24, 2020.
A woman walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, January 24, 2020. (Eugene Hoshiko / AP)

European stocks rallied Friday while Wall Street equities tumbled along with oil prices as markets weighed the potential impact of a spreading viral illness in China.

Chinese authorities expanded a massive quarantine effort in response to coronavirus, while the United States confirmed its second case of the SARS-like ailment.

French officials said there had also been two cases found in France, the first in Europe, while Nepal reported South Asia's first case.

European bourses, which had dropped on Thursday, finished solidly higher Friday in the first session since the World Health Organization stopped short of declaring a public health emergency.

"There's a hope that the coronavirus is contained, particularly in China," Interactive Investor analyst Richard Hunter told AFP.

"And that's something of a relief rally -- (and) also with the earning season so far so good.

"So the last few days provided an opportunity to investors to buy on the cheaper side," Hunter added.

US stocks had also opened higher but fell steadily as the session progressed.

Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investments said the virus still appeared to be contained but "if we start getting more cases showing up around the world, that would be a bad sign for global economic growth."

Sarhan said Friday's losses also reflected profit taking following a run of Wall Street records in recent weeks.

Tourism-oriented stocks were under pressure amid fears of the virus. United Airlines sank 3.5 percent, Marriott International lost 2.7 percent and Wynn Resorts fell 3.1 percent.

Oil prices also finished solidly lower as traders gird for a potential hit to petroleum demand from China and perhaps other markets. The outbreak has led to the cancelation of Lunar New Year festivities, along with temporary closures of Beijing's Forbidden City, Shanghai's Disneyland and a section of the Great Wall.

"With China implementing travel restrictions on more than 30 million residents at a time of peak holiday travel, demand for refined products from the transportation sector is likely to drop well below its usual holiday peaks," said Robbie Fraser, commodity analyst at Schneider Electric.

"China is the world's leading importer of crude, leaving room for significant near-term demand impact."

Source: AFP