Futures look for direction after four-day selloff

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By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were mixed on Wednesday after the and the S&P 500 indexes suffered their sharpest four-day percentage fall in more than a year on fears of the economic damage from the global spread of the coronavirus.

Demand for defensive plays such as gold remained high as the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that the rapid spread of the virus to more places was inevitable, even as the outbreak in China had peaked. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned that a pandemic was likely.

As of Wednesday, death toll in Italy had crossed 19, new cases in South Korea rose above 1,260, while first case of the virus infection was reported in Greece and Brazil.

The three main indexes have fallen in the past four sessions, with the Dow losing more than 1,900 points in the past two days, while the S&P 500 has lost about $1.74 trillion in market capitalization in the same period, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices senior analyst Howard Silverblatt.

The S&P 500 is down 7.8% from its intraday record high hit last Wednesday, while the Nasdaq is down 8.9% from the peak. If an index closes down 10% or more from its closing high, it would confirm a correction territory.

At 7:25 a.m. ET, were down 42 points, or 0.15%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.25 points, or 0.01% and were down 3 points, or 0.03%.

Among stocks, Walt Disney (NYSE:) Co slipped 2.2% in premarket trading on news Robert Iger will step down as chief executive officer, handing the reins to Disney Parks head Bob Chapek.

Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:) Inc rose 5.6% as Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:) said its Canadian stores will start selling the company’s plant-based breakfast sandwich next week.

(This story corrects milestone in lede)

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