January 21, 2020 / 4:33 PM / a month ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Risk assets dragged lower by Chinese virus anxiety

(New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments; new byline, changes dateline, previous LONDON)

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Luxury and travel stocks drop across the board

* Yen, bonds gain on safe-haven move; USD slips

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Risk assets took a hit across the globe on Tuesday while the Japanese yen and some developed country bond prices gained as financial markets reacted to mounting concern about a new strain of flu-like virus in China.

Authorities in China confirmed the coronavirus could spread through human contact. The mayor of Wuhan, where the virus may have originated, confirmed a sixth virus-related death. The World Health Organization called a meeting for Wednesday to consider declaring a global health emergency.

Investors worried that about the threat of contagion, as hundreds of millions travel for the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, which peak over the coming weekend.

Emerging market stocks lost 1.59 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 1.63 percent lower, while Japan's Nikkei lost 0.91 percent.

Hong Kong, which suffered badly during the SARS outbreak, saw its index fall 2.8%.

The chill in Asia carried over to European markets. Shares of luxury goods makers - which have large exposure to China - were among those declining the most.

A U.S. index of airline stocks fell 2.1% and hotel and casino operators Las Vegas Sands Corp and Wynn Resorts Ltd, both of which have large operations in China, dropped about 5%.

The virus outbreak "seems to be the biggest negative," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida. "We may see U.S. markets try to spit it out because it doesn't have that much of an impact on U.S. economy."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 64.41 points, or 0.22 percent, to 29,283.69, the S&P 500 lost 5.41 points, or 0.16 percent, to 3,324.21 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.30 points, or 0.02 percent, to 9,386.65.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.32 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.36 percent.

In other markets, U.S.- and German 10-year government bond yields touched a two week low while the safe-haven yen strengthened 0.26 percent versus the dollar at 109.92.

Some recalled the fallout from a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-2003 that China initially covered up.

"The fear is that it could be a SARS-type event, which was an economic issue," said Ellis Phifer, market strategist at Raymond James in Tennessee. "But this is all cautionary. The market is not panicking or anything."

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes last rose 19/32 in price to yield 1.7708 percent, from 1.835 percent late on Friday. Monday was a U.S. market holiday.

The dollar index fell 0.08 percent, with the euro up 0.02 percent to $1.1096.

Sterling was last trading at $1.3059, up 0.38 percent on the day.

The Australian dollar dropped on the flu worries since the country attracts large numbers of Chinese tourists, who tend to be big spenders over the Lunar New Year holidays.

Some investors were relieved that U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to have struck a truce over a proposed digital tax. They agreed to hold off on a potential tariffs war until the end of the year, a French diplomatic source said.

U.S. gold futures fell 0.17 percent to $1,557.60 an ounce.

Oil prices fell on expectations that a well-supplied market would be able to absorb disruptions that have cut Libya's crude production to a trickle.

U.S. crude fell 0.34 percent to $58.34 per barrel and Brent was last at $64.82, down 0.58 percent on the day. (Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Karen Brettell in New York, Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru and Ahmad Ghaddar in London; Editing by David Gregorio)

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