Nvidia pushes S&P 500, Nasdaq higher amid coronavirus worries

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq edged higher on Friday, supported by Nvidia shares after its upbeat outlook, but concerns about an economic hit from the coronavirus outbreak limited gains.

Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) jumped 8% as the company forecast first-quarter revenue ahead of analysts’ estimates, reinforcing expectations of a rebound in chip demand.

Its shares lifted the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor .SOX index by 0.3%, while the broader technology .SPLRCT rose 0.5%.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus epidemic in China showed no signs of easing, with health authorities reporting on Friday more than 5,000 new cases.

A recent Reuters poll showed the world’s second-biggest economy will grow at its slowest pace since the financial crisis in the current quarter but the downturn will be short-lived if the outbreak is contained.

“This seems to be a teflon market, where any negativity – whether it is coronavirus or anything – for now continues to get shrugged off,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

Economic data continues to be good enough to sustain the market’s uptrend, he added.

Wall Street was on course for a second straight weekly gain after hitting a series of record highs on a largely positive fourth-quarter earnings season and confidence in the U.S. economy.

However, data released on Friday was not so rosy. A Commerce Department retail sales report showed consumer spending likely slowed further in January, while separate data indicated industrial production fell more than expected last month.

At 11:44 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 2.36 points, or 0.01%, at 29,420.95. The S&P 500 .SPX was up 4.78 points, or 0.14%, at 3,378.72 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 25.48 points, or 0.26%, at 9,737.45.

The fourth-quarter earnings season is approaching the final lap. About 71% of the 378 S&P 500 firms that have reported so far have topped earnings estimates, according to IBES by Refinitiv.

Expedia Inc (EXPE.O) jumped 11.3% after the online travel services company forecast strong quarterly core earnings amid coronavirus uncertainties.

The energy .SPNY, healthcare .SPXHC and industrial .SPLRCI sectors were the losers among the 11 major S&P sectors.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

U.S. financial markets are closed on Monday for President’s Day.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.17-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.02-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 59 new 52-week highs and two new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 110 new highs and 41 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Sruthi Sankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Subhranshu Sahu

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