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US STOCKS-Wall Street slips as coronavirus dampens optimism

Fri, 14th Feb 2020 19:22

(For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click or
type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Retail sales, industrial output data underwhelms

* Nvidia climbs after upbeat revenue forecast

* Expedia jumps on upbeat core earnings outlook

* Indexes down: Dow 0.43%, S&P 0.18%, Nasdaq 0.15%
(Updates to late afternoon, changes dateline, byline)

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Wall Street edged lower on
Friday as uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus epidemic and
downbeat economic data put a damper on investor sentiment.

While the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down only modestly,
the industrials-heavy Dow suffered a larger decline.

Having see-sawed through much of the week as buyers took
breathers between record index highs, all three major U.S. stock
averages were set to head into the holiday weekend having posted
their second consecutive weekly advances.

The coronavirus, now called Covid-19, has claimed 1,380
lives and infected 63,851 according to Chinese authorities.

Still, Chinese factories and businesses are slowly coming
back online, giving market participants a glimmer of hope that
the economic effects of the epidemic, which has rattled world
markets and disrupted supply chains, would be limited and
near-term.

"The end of this is out there at some point and that gives
support to the market knowing this is going to be a temporary
issue for the global economy," said Tim Ghriskey, chief
investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. "It's a
terrible humanitarian issue, but at some point this goes away."

Indeed, in a recent Reuters survey of 40 economists, the
respondents see China's economy in the current quarter suffering
its slowest growth since the financial crisis, but believe the
downturn will be short-lived if the outbreak is contained.

"There's a lot of uncertainty about the impact of the virus
on the first quarter," Ghriskey added. "There isn't much clarity
on that at this point."

On the economics front, lackluster retail sales and
industrial production data appeared to justify the U.S. Federal
Reserve's wait-and-see stance regarding its accommodative
monetary policy, reiterated by Fed Chair Jerome Powell earlier
this week in Washington.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 126.31 points,
or 0.43%, to 29,297, the S&P 500 lost 5.97 points, or
0.18%, to 3,367.97 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped
14.85 points, or 0.15%, to 9,697.12.

Seven of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 were in the
red, with energy shares falling the most.

Winners were led by defensive real estate and
utilities stocks.

Fourth-quarter reporting season is chugging along, with 387
companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 77.4% have
surprised Street expectations to the upside, according to
Refinitiv data.

NVIDIA Corp jumped 6.9% after the chipmaker's
beat-and-raise earnings report, even as it forecast a $100
million hit from the coronavirus.

Online travel services platform Expedia Inc surged
by 11.7% after the online travel services company forecast
strong quarterly core earnings despite uncertainties surrounding
the Covid-19 virus.

EBay Inc gained 2.3% after providing
better-than-expected current-quarter profit guidance.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
1.09-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.45-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 63 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 120 new highs and 50 new lows.
(Reporting by Stephen Culp)

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