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Thursday, February 13, 2020 5:00 pm

US stocks edge mostly lower after China virus cases spike

ALEX VEIGA | Associated Press

 

Stocks are ending a wobbly day mostly lower as investors turn cautious following news of a surge in cases of the new virus in China. The latest figures dashed hopes that the spread of the outbreak was peaking, which had helped lift stocks throughout the week. The S&P 500 index fell 5 points, or 0.2%, to 3,374. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 127 points, or 0.4%, to 29,423. It was down as many as 205 points earlier. The Nasdaq fell 13 points, or 0.1% to 9,711. Small-company stocks rose. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.61%.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Major U.S. stock indexes edged mostly lower Thursday afternoon as investors turned cautious following news of a surge in cases of the new virus in China that threatens to crimp economic growth and hurt businesses worldwide.

China reported the sharp rise in cases and deaths after the hardest-hit province of Hubei took a new approach to classifying and diagnosing the virus. The latest figures dashed hopes that the spread of the outbreak was peaking, which had helped lift stocks throughout the week.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were wobbling near their record highs set Wednesday.

Household goods makers, utilities and communication services stocks led the gainers. Walmart added 1.2%., Duke Energy added 3% and Facebook rose 1.4%.

Those gains outweighed losses in health care, technology and energy stocks. Cisco Systems fell 4.6%, Mylan slid 3.9% and Marathon Oil dropped 3.7%.

Travel-related companies fell broadly. Airlines helped pull industrial sector stocks lower. United Airlines fell 1.7%. MGM Resorts shed 5.4% and cruise line operator Carnival fell 2.3%

Bond yields headed lower as investors sought safer investments. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.61% from 1.62% late Wednesday.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell less than 0.1% as of 3:24 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 77 points, or 0.3%, to 29,473. It was down as much as 205 points earlier. The Nasdaq was down less than 0.1%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.3%.

Markets in Europe and Asia finished mostly lower.

VIRUS UPDATE: The change in how Hubei determines and reports cases of the new virus pushed the number of cases worldwide to more than 60,000.

The outbreak is already hurting businesses and more of them are warning that the effects will linger through the year. Organizers of the world’s biggest mobile technology fair cancelled the event, set to take place in Spain, because of health and safety concerns over the outbreak.

MGM Resorts International, which gets about 20% of its revenue from the gambling haven of Macau, pulled its profit forecast for 2020. Fashion company Ralph Lauren warned that the viral outbreak cut into fourth-quarter sales by an estimated $55 million to $70 million.

FLYING ABOVE THE STORM: Alaska Air Group rose 1.4% after the airline said it will cooperate more closely with American Airlines on West Coast service. The airlines asked for government permission to expand revenue-sharing to cover international flights in Seattle and Los Angeles.

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AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.


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