U.S. Stocks Reach New Record Highs As Coronavirus Worries Ease

Stocks showed a strong move to the upside during trading on Wednesday, adding to the modest gains posted in the previous session. The upward move on the day lifted the major averages to new record closing highs.

The major averages reached new highs late in the session but gave back some ground going into the close. The Dow jumped 275.08 points or 0.9 percent to 29,551.42, the Nasdaq advanced 87.02 points or 0.9 percent to 9,725.96 and the S&P 500 climbed 21.70 points or 0.7 percent at 3,379.45.

The rally on Wall Street came as traders seem committed to continuing to push stocks to new record highs despite concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

While China’s National Health Commission reported 2,015 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 97 additional deaths, a recent slowdown in the rate of growth in new infections has led to optimism the outbreak is being contained.

With traders consistently shrugging off concerns about the outbreak and a lack of major U.S. economic news to drive the markets, the path of least resistance for stocks still seems to be the upside.

Traders also kept an eye on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.

Powell’s prepared remarks mirrored those he delivered before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday.

In his prepared remarks, Powell said the Fed is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak but also highlighted the resilience of the U.S. economy.

Sector News

Energy stocks fluctuated over the course of the session but closed significantly higher amid a sharp increase by the price of crude oil.

Crude for March delivery jumped $1.23 to $51.17 a barrel despite the release of a report showing a much bigger than expected weekly increase in crude oil inventories.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index surged up by 2.2 percent, the NYSE Arca Oil Index jumped by 1.7 percent and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index rose by 1.2 percent.

Substantial strength was also visible among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Semiconductor, telecom and transportation stocks also saw notable strength, while tobacco and gold stocks bucked the uptrend.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.7 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 0.9 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries extended the pullback seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 4 basis points to 1.630 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Thursday may be impacted by reaction to any coronavirus news as well as the release of reports on consumer price inflation and weekly jobless claims.

On the earnings front, Applied Materials (AMAT), Cisco (CSCO) and NetApp (NTAP) are among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today’s trading.

Alibaba (BABA), Kraft Heinz (KHC) and PepsiCo (PEP) are also among the companies due to report their results before the start of trading on Thursday.

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