Home Stock & Shares Stocks close lower as coronavirus fears resume

Stocks close lower as coronavirus fears resume

by Jonathan Adams

Stocks finished lower on Thursday afternoon as coronavirus fears resurface

Stocks finished lower on Thursday afternoon on the back of news of an upward revision to the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 0.43% lower at 29,423.31, the S&P 500 lost 0.16% to 3,373.94, and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.14% weaker at 9,711.97.

A change in the methodology in how coronavirus cases in the province of Hubei were categorised led to a 15,152 surge in the number of reported infections.

It seems stock markets are not entirely immune to the effects of COVID-19, but they are putting up quite a fight in the face of more distressing figures on Wednesday, said Oanda senior market analyst Craig Erlam.

I do wonder how bad this needs to get before confidence among the buy-the-dippers starts to be tested, he said.

The latest batch of economic data was mixed, with the latest print on consumer prices pointing firmly higher but levels of staff firings remaining near record lows.

Consumer prices in the US advanced at a year-on-year pace of 2.5% in January, versus the 2.3% seen in the month before, as expected.

But at the core level CPI was steady versus the month before at up by 2.3%, and according to economists the rent and medical components needed to be watched carefully.

Weekly jobless claims meanwhile edged up by 2,000 to 205,000 (consensus: 210,000).

Commenting on the claims figures, Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics said, the eight-week average has returned to its pre-holiday level, 214K, suggesting that the pace of layoffs is little changed in recent months, despite sharp falls in survey-based measures of employment. Firms don’t like the trade war, and they have slowed the pace of gross hiring, but firings haven’t moved at all, net.

In corporate news, Cisco Systems was down 5.23% even after its second-quarter revenue and profits came in slightly above forecasts after the closing bell on Wednesday.

MGM Resorts International was off 5.53% after it announced overnight that chief executive Jim Murren would step down at the end of his contract.

Southwest Airlines eked out gains of 0.1% after it confirmed it was extending the suspension of the grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from its schedules to 10 August, from a previous 6 June.

Shares in Boeing ended the session 1.36% lower.

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