* European stocks tumble, Italy down more than 5% after virus spread
* 30-year Treasury yields set record low
* Gold prices surge to highest since 2013 (Updates prices, changes comments, dateline, byline)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Stocks across the globe posted their largest decline in over two years on Monday and oil prices tumbled 5% as a jump in coronavirus cases outside of China sent investors scrambling to the security of gold and government bonds on fears of the impact to the global economy.
Despite the spike in coronavirus cases reported in Italy, South Korea and Iran, the head of the World Health Organization said that "using the word 'pandemic' now does not fit the facts but may certainly cause fear."
"We must focus on containment while preparing for a potential pandemic," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, adding that the world was not witnessing an uncontained spread or large-scale deaths. over the hit to economic growth and uncertainty over the stress to supply chains triggered selling in stocks and other high-risk assets.
"It is not as though the numbers have changed dramatically; but what has changed is the geography, which adds a new level of concern," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
"What the market is trying to predict here is 'How large will this get globally, and when will it start to peak?'"
At midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 919.31 points, or 3.17%, to 28,073.1, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 102.59 points, or 3.07%, to 3,235.16 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 337.09 points, or 3.52%, to 9,239.50.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 lost 3.76%, with Milan's stock market down more than 5% after a spike in cases of the virus left six dead in Italy and parts of the country's industrial north in virtual lockdown. .EU
MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 2.82%, its biggest single-day decline since Feb. 5, 2018, when concerns over a spike in inflation sent stocks tumbling.
Emerging market stocks lost 2.71%. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS closed 2.58% lower, while Japan's markets were closed for a holiday.
"Everybody sees that this could be another leg down for the economy, and we were already in quite a fragile state to begin with," said Elwin de Groot, Rabobank's head of macro strategy. "It could be another step toward a recession in more countries."
In Asia overnight, South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 slumped 3.9% after the government declared a high alert. virus has now killed nearly 2,500 people in China, which has reported some 77,000 cases, and spread to 29 other countries and territories, with a death toll outside of China around two dozen, according to a Reuters tally. which announced its first infections last week, said it had confirmed 43 cases and eight deaths, with most cases in the holy city of Qom. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan imposed travel and immigration restrictions on the Islamic Republic.
"The idea that the coronavirus has been fully contained has been firmly banished," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG. "This means the economic forecasts of the impact, such as they are, will need to be revised, with a greater impact now to be expected."
SURGE TO SAFETY
U.S. fed fund futures 0#FF: signaled more rate cuts later this year and a near 20% chance of a cut next month.
In currency markets the Japanese yen strengthened 1.02% to 110.46 per dollar.
"Ultimately this is all a risk-off trade," said Marvin Loh, senior global markets strategist at State Street (NYSE: STT ) Global Markets.
"When you look at the yen, when you look at the Swissie , when you look at rates, it is risk-off. It's probably reflective, to a certain degree, of the market being a little too sanguine up until now ... so there's an adjustment process around it."
Korea's won KRW= was down 1% at 1,219.06 after falling to its weakest since August 2019. Emerging-market currencies, from Mexico's peso MXN= and Turkey's lira TRY= to Poland's zloty PLN= and Russia's ruble RUB= , were all in the red.
Among the main industrial metals, copper CMCU3 lost 1.04% to $5,705.00 a tonne. MET/L
"As the virus spreads globally, additional downside revisions in oil demand for this year may be required," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.
"The accelerated sell-off in the stock market has become difficult for the oil market to ignore," he said.
https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4 Asia-Pacific valuations
https://tmsnrt.rs/2Dr2BQA World FX rates in 2020
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