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Major world stock indexes failed to gain traction on Friday as investors further assessed the economic fallout of China’s coronavirus outbreak, while oil prices registered their first weekly gain since early January.

Chinese health authorities reported more than 5,000 new cases of coronavirus on Friday.

“Investors are definitely keeping an eye on how much the coronavirus is spreading and where it spreads to. It still remains the biggest risk going forward,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

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A recent Reuters poll showed the world’s second-biggest economy will grow at its slowest pace since the financial crisis in the current quarter, but the downturn will be short-lived if the outbreak is contained.

Some investors said they thought the economic impact of the outbreak would not be as deep as feared, with some also noting the spread beyond China has not been as rapid as feared.

Canada’s main stock index was narrowly higher on Friday as worries over the economic impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak kept investors at bay ahead of a long weekend.

Canadian home sales fell 2.9 per cent in January from the previous month as a slowdown in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia weighed, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Friday.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 27.19 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 17,848.36.

Resource stocks weighed on the index with the energy sector down 0.2 per cent and materials sector sliding 0.8 per cent.

The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was cannabis company Canopy Growth Corp., which jumped 15.8 per cent after posting a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss. Peer Aphria Inc also rose 4 per cent.

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Lagging shares were Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., down 15.4 per cent, MTY Food Group Inc., down 8.7 per cent, and Eldorado Gold Corp., lower by 4.2 per cent.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.09 per cent.

The S&P 500 ended modestly higher on Friday following strong earnings from Nvidia and a report late in the session that the White House was considering a tax incentive for Americans to buy stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 25.64 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 29,397.67, the S&P 500 gained 6.12 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 3,380.06 and the Nasdaq Composite added 19.21 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 9,731.18.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.13 per cent.

Oil prices rose over 1 per cent on Friday, posting their first weekly gain since early January as investors bet the economic impact of the coronavirus would be short-lived and hoped for further Chinese central bank stimulus to tackle any slowdown.

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Brent crude rose 98 cents, or 1.74 per cent, to settle at $57.32 a barrel. It rose 5.23 per cent since last Friday, its first weekly increase in six weeks.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures gained 63 cents, or 1.23 per cent, to settle at $52.05 a barrel. The weekly rise was 3.44 per cent.

“The massive liquidation process that drove prices sharply lower last month has likely been completed and is being replaced by accumulation as well as short-covering from speculators who have recently entered the market,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.

Brent has fallen around 15 per cent year to date in part due to worries the coronavirus outbreak would stunt the global economy.

In currency markets, the dollar index rose 0.06 per cent, with the euro down 0.02 per cent to $1.0838.

Concerns about growth in the eurozone are expected to keep weighing on the single currency.

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U.S. Treasury yields declined as investors bought safe-haven government debt ahead of a long holiday weekend after soft retail sales data and amid the continuing virus concerns in China.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 9/32 in price to yield 1.5883 per cent, from 1.617 per cent late on Thursday.

Reuters

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