Brazil's Real touched a record low on Wednesday as traders returned from the Carnival holiday only to be alarmed by concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus after Sao Paulo confirmed its first case. The Real weakened 1.1% to 4.4470 against the dollar, as it led declines among other Latin American currencies.
Brazilian markets reopened to a shock on Wednesday, with stocks tumbling more than 7% as they were on track to log their worst one-day percentage fall since May 2017.
Airlines Azul and Gol and major commodity exporters Vale and Petrobras were hit the hardest.
Brazil is trying to catch up to all the drops we have seen in the global market and with the new case that came out, put all that together and you expect this type of reaction to show up, said Gaurav Mallik, chief portfolio strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.
MSCI's index for Latin American stocks tumbled 5.8%. MSCI's index of world stocks lost $3.3 trillion over the last four sessions.
As the virus spreads to more parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the number of infected cases has risen to about 80,000 globally, while the death toll exceeds 2,700.
Germany said on Wednesday that it was heading for a coronavirus epidemic and could no longer trace all cases, while health officials in New York said they were monitoring 83 people who visited China.
Fears have risen that the economic impact of travel curbs, disruptions to operations and falling demand might be far greater than previously anticipated.
Argentina also returned from an extended weekend with its peso touching a six-month low on Wednesday, while the Merval stock index plummeted as much as 6.6% as they
caught up with the rout across global markets this week.