Stocks rally, then slide again as virus fears revive

The latest data are hardly encouraging.

Numbers out Monday (March 2) showed Asian factories took a beating in February over the coronavirus outbreak.

A new Purchasing Managers' Index saw Chinese factory activity post its sharpest contraction on record.

Japan, Taiwan and South Korea were all badly hit too.

Adding to the grim evidence, Hyundai Motor said Monday it had suffered its lowest monthly sales in a decade.

And yet, the day at first looked positive for stocks.

Asian equities all ended the day with gains, with Europe initially following suit.

That on hopes of global action to counter the virus's impact.

Both the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are now widely expected to cut rates.

The Bank of Japan also said Monday it would take steps to stabilize markets.

And French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire promised 'concerted action' by the G7 group of developed economies.

The good mood didn't last though.

European shares were back in the red by lunchtime, with the Stoxx 600 down as much as 1.3%.

Stocks shed close to 4% in Italy - the European country hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Right now, traders are finding optimism hard to sustain.