Wall St opens lower on virus scare, mixed earnings

Marco Green
January 24, 2020

Volume on USA exchanges was 7.20 billion shares, compared with the 6.80 billion-share average over the last 20 trading days.

The industrial group topped the S&P sector leaderboard due to a rebound in Boeing and gains in Union Pacific following a positive earnings report, followed by real estate (+1%) and utilities (-0.9%); the health care sector (-0.5%) was today's biggest loser.

Investors had their eye on an worldwide effort by health authorities to monitor and contain a deadly virus outbreak in China that has spread to the United States and three other countries.

Financial stocks were hit by insurer Travelers Cos Inc's 5.4% fall after its executives discussed a challenging tort lawsuit environment and said losses from those cases have come in worse than the company's expectations.

Netflix dropped 3.6% after the entertainment company gave investors a weak forecast for new subscribers during the first quarter.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.96 points, or less than 0.1%, to 3,321.75.

At 1:23 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.39% to 29,071.02. It warned investors that it is seeing more USA customers dropping the service.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have scaled new highs as an upbeat forecast from IBM added to optimism over earnings, while China's efforts to contain a virus outbreak eased worries about a wider financial fallout.

Navient jumped 9.5% after the student loan company issued quarterly results that beat analysts' forecasts.

A bout of modest risk aversion returned to markets Thursday, with shares in Shanghai lower on the final day of trading for mainland Chinese equities before the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday.

Tesla Inc continued its rally, rising 4.1% and becoming the first publicly listed US automaker to cross the $100 billion market valuation mark. That market cap could turn into a supercharged payday for CEO Elon Musk, enabling him to receive a stock option package that's worth close to $400 million. The rate fell to 1.72 percent. However, Comcast dipped 1.4%, while Travelers slid almost 3%.

Wholesale gasoline fell 6 cents to $1.58 per gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $1.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The February gold contract was up US$8.70 at US$1,565.40 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 3.9 cents at US$2.73 a pound.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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