The death toll and the number of new cases of coronavirus recorded in Hubei province, the area at the center of the epidemic in China, increased sharply on Wednesday, according to figures from local health officials.
The region reported 242 deaths and 14,840 additional new cases on February 12, bringing the total number of people killed during the epidemic to 1,310. The number of new cases increased dramatically after the province changed its method of reporting cases. The province said it was starting to include "clinically diagnosed" cases in its numbers and that 13,332 of the new cases fell under this classification.
Investors are monitoring the situation and its potential effects on the Chinese and global economies.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told CNBC on Wednesday that the new strain of coronavirus was "clearly more impactful" on the global economy than the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.
The epidemic has resulted in the closure of factories and businesses in China, increasing the demand for business loans. Major global airlines have suspended flights to mainland China, while events around the world, including the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, have been canceled to prevent the spread of the virus.
Chinese policymakers are taking steps to minimize the shock to China’s domestic economy. The country's central bank announced last week that it would ease monetary policy, while the Chinese government rolled out tax guidelines on Tuesday to help ease financial pressure in key areas.
Back in Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to reshape his government on Thursday as the United Kingdom forges a future outside the European Union.
Prospects in perspective
Frenchman Rexel gained 9% in early morning trading, reaching the top of the European index.
Dutch insurer NN Group rose 5.4% after the company announced that its operating profit for 2019 had increased 10% year-on-year.
Swiss chemical company Clariant has seen its shares rise by about 4% after the company announced that it would cut 600 jobs after a drop in profits in 2019.
At the other end of the Stoxx 600, Centrica shares lost 17% after the company reported a loss of £ 1 billion ($ 1.3 billion) in 2019.
Shares of London-listed NMC Health fell 8.7% after a 32% rally in the stock earlier this week.