Stocks Trim Losses to Finish Week Higher; Bond Yields Sink; Coronavirus Cases Top 101,700

Stocks finish lower Friday, but carve out modest gains for the week even as fears of a global coronavirus pandemic and its potential economic fallout grip world markets.
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  1. Stocks dropped and benchmark 10-year note yields hit all-time lows as fears of a global coronavirus pandemic and its potential economic fallout continued to grip world markets.
  2. Coronavirus update: Confirmed global cases have risen to 101,782, with deaths at 3,460 (14 deaths in the U.S. have been reported).
  3. Costco is Real Money's Stock of the Day. The warehouse club retailer posted quarterly profit and sales that topped analysts' estimates as February benefited from an increase in customers because of concerns about the coronavirus.

Stocks climbed back from earlier lows to finish down Friday, but slightly higher for the week even as benchmark 10-year note yields hit all-time lows on fears of a global coronavirus pandemic and its potential economic fallout.

Equities received a slight boost after data revealed U.S. employers added 273,000 jobs in February, much higher than expected, and the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5%.

However, with coronavirus cases across the globe topping 101,700, and government officials, health experts and business leaders recommending travel restrictions, factory closures and stay-at-home prevention techniques, investors are being driven into safe-haven assets such as U.S. Treasury bonds, gold and the Japanese yen.

The yield on the 10-year note touched an all-time intraday low of 0.694%, only three days after falling below 1% for the first time ever after the Federal Reserve's emergency rate cut. At last check, the yield was at 0.761%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 256 points, or 0.98%, to 25,864 after earlier losing nearly 1,000 points. The S&P 500 tumbled 1.71% and the Nasdaq was down 1.87%.

Wall Street's losses Friday followed a decline of 969 points for the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the previous session.

Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Economics said while the jobs numbers were "great," the news unfortunately is from "another planet, and it does not mean that the Fed was wrong to cut rates this week." Ahead of the nonfarm payrolls report, Shepherdson said the February data "wasn't a coronavirus story" yet.

"The survey was conducted in the week ended Saturday Feb. 15, four days before the market peaked," Shepherdson added Friday. "We’re expecting a slowing in gross hiring to depress the March number, though we see no evidence this hit has been augmented by increased layoffs, yet. April likely will be much worse."

Oil prices in the U.S. fell 9.3% to $41.64 a barrel after OPEC leaders failed to reach an agreement to deepen production cuts after Russia refused to cooperate with plans that would have removed about 3 million barrels from the market each day.

Costco  (COST) - Get Report, the membership-based warehouse retailer, reported second-quarter profit and sales that topped analysts' estimates as February benefited from an increase in customers because of concerns about the coronavirus.

“February sales benefited from an uptick in consumer demand in the fourth week of the reporting period,” Costco said in a press release. “We attribute this to concerns over the coronavirus.”

The company estimated that comparable-store sales in February got a virus-related boost of 3 percentage points.

JPMorgan Chase  (JPM) - Get Report CEO Jamie Dimon underwent emergency heart surgery Thursday and is recovering in a hospital.

Dimon, 63 years old, suffered an “acute aortic dissection,” JPMorgan said in a statement to employees. Dimon was alert and "recovering well," the bank said. CNBC reported Friday that Dimon is expected to make a full recovery and had been in touch with the bank's senior leaders.

JPMorgan Co-Presidents Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith will lead the bank while Dimon recuperates. Pinto runs JPMorgan’s investment bank, and Smith is chief of its consumer bank. Shares fell 5%.

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report slid Friday after analysts at Deutsche Bank slashed their price target on shares of the tech giant, citing "considerable uncertainty" stemming from the impact of the coronavirus. Shares finished off 1.3%.