- Stocks finish sharply higher after a strong showing from Joe Biden in the Super Tuesday Democratic primary contests underpinned equities and boosted shares of healthcare stocks.
- Coronavirus update: In China, where the coronavirus outbreak began, 2,981 deaths have been reported with 80,270 confirmed cases. Globally, there have been 3,198 deaths and 92,455 cases.
- Dollar Tree is Real Money's Stock of the Day after the off-price retailer posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but reported disappointing same-store sales.
Stocks finished sharply higher Wednesday, rebounding from the previous session's steep selloff, after a strong showing from Joe Biden in the Super Tuesday Democratic primary contests underpinned equities and boosted shares of healthcare stocks.
Sentiment, however, was kept in check because a surprise rate cut from the Federal Reserve on Tuesday did little to ease investors' concerns over the evolving impact of the coronavirus outbreak on economic growth.
In its Beige Book, a collection of anecdotal information from the Fed's 12 regional reserve banks, the central bank said it had seen "indications that the coronavirus was negatively impacting travel and tourism." The report was released Wednesday.
Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate forged an agreement Wednesday for $8.3 billion in emergency funding to fight the coronavirus.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 1,173 points, or 4.53%, to 27,090, the S&P 500 climbed 4.22% and the Nasdaq ended up 3.85%.
The Fed's between-meeting interest rate cut of 50 basis points, the central bank's first emergency move since the financial crisis in 2008, initially provided brief support for stocks.
But it ultimately raised deeper concerns related to both the spread of the virus, which has now reached 60 countries and infected more than 93,000 people, and its impact on the global economy.
"We've come to the view now that it is time to act in support of the economy," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday. “I do know that the U.S. economy is strong and we will get to the other side of this; I fully expect that we will return to solid growth and a solid labor market as well.”
Biden's campaign got a shot in the arm after the former vice president won nine states on Super Tuesday, including Texas. Biden was also named the winner of the Maine presidential primary on Wednesday afternoon.
Biden's rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, took the biggest prize - delegate-rich California.
Healthcare stocks such as UnitedHealth (UNH) - Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Report, the Dow's top gainer, and CVS Health (CVS) - Get CVS Health Corporation Report were rising Wednesday following the surge in support for Biden on Super Tuesday.
Biden took the delegate lead from Sanders, who has specifically targeted health-care managers such as UnitedHealth for alleged "greed" and vowed to replace them with so-called Medicare for All proposals if he were elected president.
“The stock market is higher (Wednesday) after Joe Biden's win over Bernie Sanders last night. Wall Street can live with Trump or Biden as president," said Craig Turner, a senior commodities broker with Daniels Trading in Chicago.
"It is no secret what Bernie Sanders thinks of Wall Street and major corporations. I have no interest in debating politics, but it is important to understand who the market views as market friendly or not. I'm sure the Fed rate cut helped, too.”
Private companies in the U.S. added 183,000 jobs to payrolls in February, according to Automatic Data Processing. Economists had expected an increase of 155,000.
Dollar Tree (DLTR) - Get Dollar Tree, Inc. Report posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but reported disappointing same-store sales. The off-price retailer noted that its near-term profit forecasts don't include any impact on supply chains or customer demand linked to the coronavirus.
Nordstrom (JWN) - Get Nordstrom, Inc. (JWN) Report declined Wednesday after the Seattle high-end retailer reported fourth-quarter earnings and sales that missed expectations, forecast disappointing fiscal-year earnings, and named Erik Nordstrom as its sole CEO.
GE affirmed on Wednesday its 2020 profit, revenue and free-cash flow targets for its industrial division, but noted the division would suffer a coronavirus hit of between $300 million and $500 million over the first three months of the year.