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U.S. Stocks Edge Higher on Mixed Coronavirus News

Friday 14th February 2020

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U.S. equities edged higher after the World Heath Organization said a spike in coronavirus diagnoses doesn’t necessarily reflect a sudden surge in new infections. Treasuries trimmed their gains and West Texas crude advanced.

The S&P 500 Index rose Thursday, recovering from early lows after a top WHO official said many of the added cases date back days and weeks. Earlier, the benchmark had slumped alongside European and Asian equity gauges when officials in China deployed a revised methodology to diagnose the virus, sending the number of confirmed cases soaring.

“It’s too early to tell the overall impact on U.S. markets. We seem to continue to be strong and U.S. consumers continue to be strong,” Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA, said by phone. “The question now is, how quickly can the virus get under control and can China limit the extent and get things back to normal as quickly as possible?”

The euro traded near the lowest since 2017, while the U.K. pound gained and gilts retreated after Sajid Javid quit as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The FTSE 100 Index also declined.

Investor sentiment had improved in recent sessions amid speculation the impact from the coronavirus outbreak on global growth would be short-lived. That assumption was thrown into doubt when Hubei, the province at the center of the epidemic, reported almost 15,000 new cases after it revised its data to include “clinically diagnosed” cases in its daily disclosure.

Elsewhere, stock gauges in Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Korea all declined, though shares in Australia edged higher. Oil climbed even as the International Energy Agency said the coronavirus means global demand will drop this quarter for the first time in over a decade.

China and the U.S. on Friday are scheduled to lower tariffs on billions of dollars of respective imports as part of the trade deal signed last month.

(Bloomberg)



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