S&P 500, Nasdaq tick lower as coronavirus worries weigh

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq edged lower on Friday as concerns about an economic hit from the coronavirus outbreak outweighed a boost from Nvidia shares after the chipmaker’s upbeat outlook.

Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) jumped 7.2% after it forecast first-quarter revenue ahead of analysts’ estimates, reinforcing expectations of a rebound in chip demand and lifting the broader technology .SPLRCT sector by 0.2%.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus epidemic in China showed no signs of easing, with new cases topping 5,000 on Friday.

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.

“The coronavirus still remains a concern but it appears for now at least that the assumption is it won’t impact the U.S. too much and that it will be something that can be controlled in China,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey.

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 upbeat. 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 13:15 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI slipped 0.28% to 29,341.05. The S&P 500 .SPX fell 0.09% to 3,371.06 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down or 0.06% at 9,706.43.

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

With the fourth-quarter earnings season starting to wind down, about 77% of the 387 S&P 500 firms that have reported so far have topped earnings estimates, according to IBES by Refinitiv.

Expedia Inc (EXPE.O) jumped 10.9% after the online travel services company forecast strong quarterly core earnings amid coronavirus uncertainties.

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

Apart from tech, the defensive real estate .SPLRCR, utilities .SPLRCU and consumer staples .SPLRCS were in the positive territory among the 11 major S&P sectors. Energy stocks .SPNY dropped 1.2%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.09-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.42-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 63 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 118 new highs and 45 new lows.

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

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