Stocks Close at Record Highs as Spread of Coronavirus Seen Slowing

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq close at all-time highs as the number of new coronavirus infections slows.
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  1. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at all-time highs after China said the number of new coronavirus infections slowed to the lowest rate in nearly two weeks.
  2. Coronavirus update: 1,118 deaths, 45,206 infected.
  3. BP is Real Money's Stock of the Day. The European oil giant has set a "net zero" target for emissions by 2050.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at all-time highs Wednesday after China said the number of new coronavirus infections slowed to the lowest rate in nearly two weeks.

The Dow finished up 275.08 points, or 0.94%, to 29,551.42, the S&P 500 rose 0.65% to 3,379.45, and the Nasdaq closed up 0.90% to 9,725.96.

The three exchanges all set intraday highs as well.

The coronavirus outbreak -- the World Health Organization said the official name for the disease caused by the new coronavirus is Covid-19 -- has killed 1,118 people and infected more than 45,200.

But the rate of infections is slowing according to China's National Health Commission, which was hopeful that the spread of the virus around China, the world's second-largest economy, has peaked.

The broader impact of the virus on China's growth, as well as its influence on economies around the world, has yet to be quantified, however.

"We are closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, adding that there will "very likely be some effects on the United States." He told the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday that the Fed should have an idea how much the outbreak has impacted the U.S. economy “fairly soon.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders was declared the winner and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., came in a very close second in a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

Wall Street's reaction to the Sanders win was muted as many investors don't think the senator can win the presidency or believe that if he wins his socialist beliefs and anti-establishment proposals won't pass muster with Congress.

Health care stocks such as UnitedHealth  (UNH) - Get Report, which was leading the Dow, rose since Sanders isn't predicted to defeat Donald Trump and therefore his Medicare for All proposal won't get off the ground.

CVS Health  (CVS) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but forecast fiscal-year profit that was modestly shy of Wall Street forecasts.

Looking into its current fiscal year, CVS said it expects adjusted earnings of between $7.04 to $7.14 a share, compared with analysts' forecasts of $7.15.

Lyft  (LYFT) - Get Report tumbled Wednesday despite beating analysts’ fourth-quarter earnings and sales estimates as investors seek more clarity about the company’s path to profitability amid improvements by its bigger rival, Uber UBER.

Carnival  (CCL) - Get Report said it expects the coronavirus to have a material impact of 55 cents to 65 cents a share in fiscal 2020. The estimate was a worst-case scenario in which the Miami cruise company had to suspend all its operations in Asia through the end of April.

Bed Bath & Beyond  (BBBY) - Get Report fell sharply Wednesday after posting a slump in holiday sales and narrower profit margins as new CEO Mark Tritton attempts to revive the struggling home-goods retailer.

BP  (BP) - Get Report is Real Money's Stock of the Day. The European oil giant has set a "net zero" target for emissions by 2050, a goal it said will require a "fundamental changes" under new CEO Bernard Looney.

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