Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wall Street treads water as China virus fears ease

NEW YORK (AFP) – Wall Street had a mostly flat day on Wednesday (Jan 22), with markets little moved either by strong earnings or a rising death toll blamed on a virus from China.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S&P 500 were both about flat at 29,186.27 and 3,321.81, respectively.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq managed to eke out a 0.1 per cent gain to finish at 9,383.77, however.

Markets pulled back from records on Tuesday as investors grew worried about the new coronavirus in China, which has so far killed more than a dozen and infected hundreds.

But those fears eased in Wednesday’s session.

“Today, we found out how much time it would take to contain this and more details and people feel a little bit less nervous about that story,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Holdings, told AFP.

“This story as a market mover dissipated a bit,” he added, saying attention would be more on individual stocks.

IBM rose 3.4 per cent after topping fourth-quarter earnings expectations.

But Dow member Boeing fell another 1.4 per cent as newly-installed chief executive officer David Calhoun said the company would stand by its globally-grounded 737 Max jet.

The company expects to resume production even before authorities allow it to fly again later this year, Calhoun said.

Among other companies reporting earnings, Johnson & Johnson fell 0.7 per cent, Netflix dove 3.6 per cent and United Airlines sank 2.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, electric automaker Tesla topped US$100 billion (S$135 billion) in market value for the first time, triggering a payout plan that could deliver billions to founder Elon Musk.

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