By Avantika Chilkoti 

Global stocks wavered Friday as investors weighed the potential impact of the fast-spreading coronavirus and the fresh tensions stemming from the U.S.'s battle against China's Huawei Technologies on economic growth.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1%, while the Stoxx Europe 600 index swung between gains and losses. Over in Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.4% higher.

Investors and public health officials have grown concerned this week about when the coronavirus outbreak might peak after Chinese authorities changed the criteria for diagnosis, leading to a dramatic increase in the new cases. While the surge in reported figures in Hubei province, the epicenter of the infections, may be a one-off event, the broader classification rules could mean that more undiagnosed cases might come to light.

Adding to investor jitters is the prospect of fresh tensions between Washington and Beijing. Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and two of its U.S. subsidiaries were charged with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to steal trade secrets in a federal indictment unsealed late Thursday. The new charges, which Huawei called unfair and unfounded, represent fresh measures by Washington in a campaign to lock Huawei out of next-generation mobile networks on national security grounds.

Among European equities, Royal Bank of Scotland Group was among the biggest losers. The stock declined 5.8% after the U.K. bank reduced the size of its investment banking business and projected as much as GBP1 billion ($1.3 billion) in costs this year, stemming from strategic changes it plans to make.

Later in the day, investors will be watching for the latest retail sales data from the U.S. Commerce Department, which will provide fresh signs on whether holiday-season spending continued into the new year. Economists expect to see a 0.3% rise in sales during January compared with the prior month.

Write to Avantika Chilkoti at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 14, 2020 05:41 ET (10:41 GMT)

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