Wednesday 19th February 2020
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U.S. stocks traded mixed as investors weighed a grim revenue forecast from Apple Inc. with data showing a slowdown in new cases of the deadly coronavirus that originated in China. Treasuries rose and the dollar strengthened.
The S&P 500 Index eased off a record high as the iPhone maker warned of production and demand disruptions due to the epidemic, while gains for Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc. pushed the Nasdaq 100 slightly higher. Apple suppliers including Dialog Semiconductor Plc and AMS AG helped drag down European stocks. HSBC Plc tumbled the most since 2009 after it said it will slash jobs in a restructuring, while also flagging risks from the virus.
Investors are still trying to judge the corporate and economic impact from the coronavirus, even as the growth rate of cases in China’s Hubei province -- the epicenter of the disease -- continues to stabilize. It’s a turnaround from Monday, when sentiment was lifted by Chinese policy makers’ moves to support companies hit by the prolonged shutdown of large parts of the country. BHP Group said commodity prices will take a hit if the fallout extends beyond the end of next month.
“The market has largely ignored what’s going on with the coronavirus in terms of what impact it might have, but I’m not sure that’s entirely appropriate,” said Jeff Mills, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust. “It’s likely to be temporary and the economy may bounce back, but this is different than what we saw with SARS. China is a much larger more entwined piece of the global economy.”
Elsewhere, equity benchmarks in Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong saw declines of over 1%. The Australian dollar weakened after the Reserve Bank of Australia said it reviewed the case for a further rate cut at its last meeting, but didn’t go ahead. Emerging-market stocks and currencies fell.
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