Coronavirus live updates: Air France tallies brutal impact from outbreak, shipping giant Maersk blames virus for weak start to year

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  • Total confirmed cases: More than 75,700
  • Total deaths: At least 2,130

Shipping giant Maersk warned that the coronavirus outbreak would weigh on earnings this year, compounding the woes of a container shipping industry already subdued by trade wars and an economic slowdown. Maersk, which reported a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, forecasted a weak start to the year because factories in China were closed for longer than usual after the Chinese New Year holiday. “Weekly container vessel calls at key Chinese ports were significantly down compared to last year during the last weeks of January and the first weeks of February,” Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping firm, said in a statement. It reiterated, however, a forecast for growth in global container demand of 1% to 3% this year, saying Chief Executive Soren Skou remained optimistic of a rebound in the second quarter. Global container demand grew 1.4% in 2019 and 3.8% the year before. — Reuters

Air France-KLM warned on Thursday of a 150 million to 200 million euro ($162 million to $216 million) hit to earnings by April as it contends with the China coronavirus epidemic’s “brutal” impact on the airline industry. The Franco-Dutch group’s shares fell sharply after its full-year results and 2020 outlook, which was in the spotlight as markets watch for economic effects well beyond the Asian center of the outbreak. Like many global airlines, Air France-KLM has canceled flights to mainland China until the end of March, basing its impact estimate on the assumption that flights will then will resume progressively. “That’s the hypothesis we’re using for the moment, but we don’t know how credible it is,” Chief Financial Officer Frederic Gagey said. “Obviously if it lasts longer, the impact will be heavier.” — Reuters

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics and the biggest assembler of Apple products, said Thursday it is cautiously restarting production at its main plants in China, Reuters reported, but it warned revenue will be hurt this year by the coronavirus epidemic.

China’s Hubei province has asked firms not to resume work before March 11 due to the outbreak, although those involved in epidemic prevention and control and public utilities are exempt. The suspension of work for many firms was due to end on February 21. In a statement on its official Weibo account, the province said schools are not to re-open until further notice. — Ellyatt


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