U.S. stocks fluctuate amid coronavirus concern

  • Stock traders work Wednesday at the New York Stock Exchange.

    Stock traders work Wednesday at the New York Stock Exchange. Associated Press

Updated 2/26/2020 12:57 PM

U.S. equities swung between gains and losses as investors digested fresh evidence of the widening coronavirus outbreak. The dollar advanced.

The S&P 500 dipped after a report said officials in the New York region are monitoring people for exposure. The benchmark index had slid more than 6% over the prior two days. Ten-year Treasury yields approached the record-low close set Tuesday. European shares pared losses to close mostly higher, while Asian equities finished in the red. Oil bounced around $50 a barrel and gold edged higher.


"The market is pricing in the unknown extent to which we'll see a pullback in growth and, in turn, what this will mean for corporate earnings," Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade Financial, said in an interview at Bloomberg's New York headquarters.

President Donald Trump and federal health officials plan to brief the U.S. public Wednesday on efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Diageo Plc and Danone SA warned earlier that the outbreak will hit sales in China. The first cases in Greece and in South America emerged, while Spain locked down a seaside resort hotel with about 1,000 guests and workers inside.

Risk assets are struggling to rebound as coronavirus cases steadily climb outside the epicenter in China. South Korea said its national total rose to more than 1,000, while American health officials Tuesday warned that they expect the epidemic to spread in the U.S.

Traders may be looking out for further signs of policy accommodation after American central bankers said they are closely monitoring the spreading virus, though it's "still too soon" to say whether it will change the outlook.

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"People are taking a step back and reviewing the data and seeing how much this coronavirus is progressing," said Michael Reynolds, investment strategy officer at Glenmede Trust Co.

Elsewhere, a gauge of high-yield credit risk for European issuers rose for a fifth day. Industrial metals and minerals mostly dropped, including copper and iron ore. Bitcoin slumped for a third day.

These are some key events coming up:

Earnings keep rolling in from companies including: Baidu Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Dell Technologies Inc. on Thursday; and London Stock Exchange Group Plc on Friday.

The Bank of Korea announces its policy decision on Thursday, with rising risks of an interest-rate cut.

U.S. jobless claims, GDP and durable goods data are out Thursday.

Japan industrial production, jobs, and retail sales figures are due on Friday.

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