Dow Ends Below 29,000 as Stocks Close Sharply Lower on Coronavirus Worries

Wall Street ends sharply lower Friday after the number of coronavirus cases inside and outside China rises.
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  1. Stocks declined sharply Friday after the number of new coronavirus cases spiked.
  2. Coronavirus update: 2,236 deaths and 75,465 confirmed cases, according to China's National Health Commission.
  3. Zscaler is Real Money's Stock of the Day after the cybersecurity company issued a weaker-than-expected profit forecast.

Stocks ended Friday sharply lower after the number of new coronavirus cases spiked and as U.S. manufacturing data came in weaker than expected. 

South Korea's report of 100 new cases of the coronavirus and a total of 204 renewed worries that the infection was spreading rapidly to other Asian economies despite efforts by the Chinese government to control the outbreak. Stocks in South Korea fell 1.5% on Friday.

China's National Health Commission reported a total of 75,465 confirmed cases of the virus and 2,236 deaths. Globally, the World Health Organization's numbers were: 76,767 confirmed cases and 2,247 deaths.

A plunge in car sales in China during the first two weeks of February was evidence that the virus outbreak clearly was having an impact on China's economy. 

In Japan, the manufacturing sector saw activity decline in February to the lowest level in more than seven years amid the fallout from the coronavirus.

Besides the rise in coronavirus cases, a weak U.S. manufacturing reading also hit equities. IHS Markit's Manufacturing PMI dropped to 50.8 in February, well below economists' estimates of 53.4 and below January's reading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 274 points, or 0.94%, to 28,946, the S&P 500 fell 1.2% and the Nasdaq was down 2%.

Leading the Dow lower were Nike  (NKE) - Get Report, Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report and JPMorgan Chase  (JPM) - Get Report.

Larry Kudlow, the top White House economist, told CNBC Friday he doesn't expect a "major blow" to the U.S. economy from the virus.

"There’s not a ton of economic reports for the market to sink its teeth into (Friday) so the coronavirus is back center stage, said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade. "Tech is down on the news, and Treasury yields, which haven’t seemed to be able to catch a break in a really long time, are hitting all-time lows. Factor in the strong dollar and actually it’s somewhat of a wonder the market isn’t taking it harder, as we’re only down less than a percent."

Coca-Cola  (KO) - Get Report said it expects the coronavirus outbreak in China to trim first-quarter earnings by 1 cent to 2 cents a share, and announced it was raising its quarterly dividend by 2.5% to 41 cent a share.

Deere  (DE) - Get Report, the agriculture and turf equipment maker, posted fiscal first-quarter earnings that handily beat analysts’ forecasts and reiterated its fiscal 2020 profit guidance amid signs of sunny skies ahead for the U.S. farming sector. 

Zscaler  (ZS) - Get Report is Real Money's Stock of the Day. Shares fell sharply after the cybersecurity company issued a weaker-than-expected profit forecast.

Wells Fargo  (WFC) - Get Report reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department over the bank's sales scandal, the company said in a statement after the close.

A German court ruled that Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report can resume cutting down trees so the electric vehicle company can build its first electric car factory in Europe.