• WHO declared coronavirus a global health emergency
  • US GDP rose by 2.3% in 2019, the lowest rate in three years
  • Bank of England kept interest rates unchanged

U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday, recovering from earlier losses, after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, but praised Chinese authorities for their efforts at containing the disease.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 124.08 points to 28,858.53 while the S&P 500 rose 10.2 points to 3,283.60 and the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 23.77 points to 9,298.93.

Volume on the New York Stock Exchange totaled 3.11 billion shares with 1,476 issues advancing, 169 setting new highs, and 1,460 declining, with 109 setting new lows.

Active movers were led by General Electric Co. (GE), NIO Inc (NIO), and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD).

Chinese authorities said the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has reached 171, and has spread to every region in mainland China, including Tibet. As of Thursday, there were more than 8,100 confirmed cases in the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later reported the first human-to-human transmission of the virus in the U.S.

The virus has led many foreign airlines to suspend or reduce flights to China, while several major global companies have curtailed their operations in the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump has appointed a task force to coordinate the U.S. response to the virus outbreak.

“The spread of the Wuhan virus isn’t accelerating, but markets [are] becoming more concerned about future earnings and economic growth as companies implement work stoppages to reduce the chance of the disease spreading,” said Tom Essaye, founder of The Sevens Report.

The U.S. economy grew by 2.1% in the fourth quarter, as expected. For the full year, the economy grew 2.3%, its slowest pace in three years, below the 2.9% increase from 2018 and the 2.4% gain in 2017.

The U.S. economy has not expanded by 3% or more over a full calendar year since 2005.

For the full year, personal consumption expenditure rose by 2.6%, down from the 3% pace recorded in 2018.

The Bank of England has left interest rates unchanged at 0.75%, but the decision was not unanimous. The Bank also cut the U.K.’s economic growth forecast for 2020 GDP to 0.8% from 1.2%.

Growth for 2021 was also revised downward, to 1.4% from 1.8%.

“For the moment, I think negative risks are more likely than positive ones,” said Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein. “But with the economy as stable as it is, it would take a very large shock indeed to materially alter the economy’s basic trajectory.”

Markets in mainland China remained closed for the lunar new year holiday, but Hong Kong‘s Hang Seng index plunged 2.62% and Japan’s Nikkei-225 dropped 1.72%.

In Europe markets finished lower, as Britain’s FTSE-100 fell 1.36%, France’s CAC-40 tumbled 1.40% and Germany’s DAX dropped 1.41%.

Crude oil futures dropped 1.13% at $52.73 per barrel and Brent crude rose 1.19% at $58.01. Gold futures rose 0.41%.

The euro rose 0.17% at $1.1031 while the pound sterling gained 0.54% at $1.3091.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell 2.26% to 1.558% while yield on the 30-year Treasury dropped 1.22% to 2.028%.