Stocks End Mixed as Wall Street Assesses Virus Impact

Stocks give up earlier gains to end mixed as investors assess the impact of the coronavirus.
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  1. Stocks finished mixed Wednesday following the worst four-day selloff on Wall Street since December 2018.
  2. Coronavirus update: 78,064 confirmed cases in China and 2,715 deaths; globally, there are 81,245 cases and 2,770 deaths.
  3. Walt Disney is Real Money's Stock of the Day after CEO Bob Iger surprisingly resigned earlier than was expected. 

Stocks gave up earlier gains to finish mixed Wednesday as stocks struggled following the worst four-day selloff on Wall Street since December 2018. Warnings from health officials that the coronavirus likely will spread to the United States dampened sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 124 points, or 0.46%, to 26,958, the S&P 500 ended off 0.38%, while the Nasdaq finished up 0.17%.

At one point Wednesday, the Dow had risen 461 points.

Gilead Sciences (GILD) - Get Report was leading the Nasdaq's advance. The company developed an investigational antiviral remdesivir and on Tuesday, the National Institutes of Health said that a clinical trial of  remdesivir, for adults with the 2019 coronavirus has begun at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

The drug "has shown promise in animal models for treating Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, known as SARS, NIH said. These two diseases are caused by other coronaviruses, the agency said.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields were trading at 1.305%, following Tuesday's record-low settlement of 1.328%, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that Americans should be prepared for the disease to spread in the United States. There currently are 60 confirmed cases in the U.S. 

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen - and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC in a call with reporters.

The advice followed similar warnings from the World Health Organization, which urged countries to step up their defense systems as the number of global infections rose past 81,000 and the death toll reached 2,762 - including more than 50 outside of China, where the virus was first identified in late 2019.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would hold a news conference at 6 p.m. ET to discuss the coronavirus. 

Workday (WDAY) - Get Report canceled its annual internal sales meeting over fears of the coronavirus outbreak and will be moving the program online, CNBC reported. The Workday Sales Kickoff, or SKO, was scheduled for March 2 through March 4 in Orlando, Florida, and was supposed to draw around 3,000 people.

Bloomberg on Wednesday said a report was noting that officials in New York were monitoring people for exposure to the virus.

Walt Disney  (DIS) - Get Report CEO Bob Iger stepped down Tuesday and Bob Chapek, who has led Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since 2018, was named as Iger’s successor.

Iger, who last year said he planned to resign in 2021, becomes executive chairman of Disney and will “direct the company’s creative endeavors,” the media and entertainment giant said.

“The company has gotten larger and more complex,” Iger said during a conference call with analysts. “I should be spending as much time as possible on the creative side of our businesses.”

Walt Disney led the Dow's retreat, followed by Chevron (CVX) - Get Report and Exxomobil (XOM) - Get Report.

Walt Disney is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells DIS? Learn more now.

Salesforce.com  (CRM) - Get Report finished down Wednesday after announcing that co-CEO Keith Block was stepping down.

Remaining chief Marc Benioff worked to assure investors that Salesforce's leadership remained strong despite Block's departure.

The announcement that Block was leaving the company - he assumed the co-CEO post alongside Benioff in August 2018 - came as a surprise given that many observers of Salesforce viewed him as a successor to Benioff, who co-founded the company 21 years ago.

On a call with shareholders, Benioff said that Block’s departure wouldn't cause any interruption in the company’s business execution this year. Block will remain as an adviser to Benioff, the company said in a press release.

“When you look at our total management team that Keith and I have built ... I think it is the finest management team in the software industry and maybe any industry,” said Benioff.

Salesforce is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stock? Learn more now.

Lowe's  (LOW) - Get Report posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts' forecasts amid ongoing cost-cutting measures and improved foot traffic at its big-box brick-and-mortar stores, even as same-store sales dropped. 

The home-improvement retailer said it expects fiscal 2021 adjusted earnings of between $6.45 and $6.65 a share, below analysts' forecasts of $6.67 a share.