Dow drops 160 points after a second US coronavirus case is confirmed, Boeing shares slide

FAN Editor

Stocks fell on Friday after the second U.S. case of the deadly coronavirus was confirmed, stoking concerns over the sickness’ impact on the global economy. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down 160 points, or 0.6% after jumping more than 100 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 fell 0.8% after rising 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite was about 0.7% lower.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a Chicago resident who traveled to Wuhan — the Chinese city where the coronavirus originated — in December was diagnosed with the sickness.

U.S. Senator John Barrasso later said the CDC told lawmakers they are about to confirm a third case of the Wuhan virus in the U.S. “It looks like have 2 documented cases in the US, it looks like third may be confirmed as well.”

Shares of United Airlines and American both fell more than 4%. Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts also dropped more than 2.8% each. Treasury yields fell, pushing bank shares lower. The benchmark 10-year yield dipped below 1.7%. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America all traded more than 2% lower.

Fears over the possible economic impact of the coronavirus subdued stocks this week. The Dow and S&P 500 are both on pace for their first weekly loss of 2020. The Nasdaq was set to post a marginal gain for the week. The World Health Organization on Thursday called the outbreak an “emergency in China,” but stopped short of saying it constituted a global public health emergency.

Boeing shares also contributed to Friday’s decline, falling 0.8% after CNBC confirmed the company was considering further cuts to its 787 Dreamliner production

Stocks started Friday’s session on a strong note after the release of better-than-expected earnings from American Express and Intel.

American Express reported a quarterly profit and revenue that beat analyst expectations. Those results were driven in part by strong card fee revenues. The stock gained more than 3%.

Workers assemble a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner airplane at the Boeing Everett Factory in Everett, Washington.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Intel, meanwhile, climbed more than 8% after its fourth-quarter numbers topped estimates. The company also gave an optimistic outlook for the first quarter of 2020.

Those results add to what has been a solid start to the earnings season. More than 16% of the S&P 500 has released quarterly results thus far. Of those companies, about 70% have reported better-than-expected earnings, FactSet data shows.

Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout, pointed out that S&P 500 earnings expectations are also improving, which is “a reason why stocks continue to rise. The rise in price has been more than the underlying improvement in overall EPS expectations. This is what has made stock prices expensive in our opinion.”

Stocks have been on a record-setting tear since last year, with the S&P 500 rising more than 28% in 2019 and gaining more than 2% to start off 2020.

“This certainly falls out of the realm of what is considered a normal market structure,” said Dan Deming, managing director at KKM Financial. “As we got closer to January, it felt like the FOMO scenario was kicking in, fear of missing out. You have market participants who needed to put money to work.”

But “until you see a marked shift in inflation, I just don’t see why you are not going to see money keep flowing into the equity market.”

U.S. equities followed their European counterparts higher after IHS Markit data showed business activity in the region showed signs of stabilizing after weakening throughout 2019.

The Stoxx 600 index, which tracks a broad swath of European shares, advanced 1.1%. Germany’s Dax climbed 1.5% while the French CAC 40 gained 1.1%.

“Global economic activity is slowly firming, but is not likely to be sufficiently strong as to unnerve government bond markets over the next few months,” strategists at MRB Partners said in a note. “Nevertheless, the macro backdrop is sufficiently positive, and likely to remain so, to suggest that no worse than a digestion phase or mild correction will be necessary to better align equity prices with the slow-moving uptrend in earnings.”

—CNBC’s Ryan Browne contributed to this report.

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