Stocks wobble in early trading, but head for weekly gains

Marco Green
February 16, 2020

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 126.31 points, or 0.43%, to 29,297, the S&P 500 lost 5.97 points, or 0.18%, to 3,367.97 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.85 points, or 0.15%, to 9,697.12. (NIO) and Roku Inc. This week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said it was too early to assess the threat the virus poses to the USA economy, but he noted that the economy "is in a very good place" with strong job creation and moderate growth. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told CNBC many scenarios were being discussed, including the creation of universal savings accounts, which would combine retirement, education and health care savings into one entity.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, said "nobody wants to step up and buy heading into a long weekend".

Investors had briefly grown concerned this week about when the coronavirus outbreak might peak after Chinese authorities changed the criteria for diagnosis, leading to a dramatic increase in the new cases. Nearly 1,400 people on mainland China have died from the virus. Shares in Arista Networks dropped over 7% after the cloud-networking provider reported a drop in fourth-quarter revenue.

Retail sales in the U.S.

"We always thought the "phase one" trade deal would not actually resolve tensions between the USA and China", said Simona Gambarini, markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

USA industrial production slipped by 0.3% in January, the fourth such decline in the past five months, the Federal Reserve said Friday. Walmart will release its report on Tuesday.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index came in at 100.9 for February, unchanged from January.

Business inventories in the US inched up 0.1% in December after a 0.2% decline in the prior month, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

Investors also largely shrugged off the signs of fresh tensions between Washington and Beijing that emerged overnight after the USA charged Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and two of its US subsidiaries with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to steal trade secrets.

Technology companies gained ground in the early going. "If we do see earnings growth pick up here, which we think it will throughout 2020, that will bode well for USA equities".

Banks fell as bond yields slipped. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NASDAQ:) declined 1.34% or 0.72 points to end at 52.85 and Caterpillar Inc (NYSE:) was down 1.24% or 1.73 points to 137.99.

"The end of this is out there at some point and that gives support to the market knowing this is going to be a temporary issue for the global economy", said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in NY.

Oil prices gained 75 cents to $52.17 USA a barrel. Over in Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.4% higher.

Gold prices slid 30 cents to $1,578.50 U.S.an ounce.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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