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Dow, S&P surrender gains amid coronavirus frenzy as Nasdaq hangs on

Jonathan Garber

Volatility is wreaking havoc for investors amid the coronavirus health crisis.

U.S. equity markets turned sharply lower on Wednesday, while the Nasdaq managed to claw back from losses after the Food and Drug Administration warned the coronavirus is on a path to becoming a pandemic.

President Trump will update the nation on coronavirus with his task force at 6:30 PM ET.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up a gain of more than 460 points or 1.7 percent. The morning rally gave traders some hope that the two-day coronavirus-fueled selloff that wiped out $1.7 trillion of shareholder wealth was at an end. The selloff, which has erased 6.3 percent of the S&P 500's value, was the index's sharpest two-day slide since August 2015.


The coronavirus outbreak has sickened 80,239 people worldwide and killed 2,700, according to the latest World Health Organization data.

Travel-related stocks were under pressure, with American Airlines, Booking Holdings, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Hilton Hotels notching declines.

Drugmakers Gilead Sciences and Novavax gained as they raced to develop a treatment for the virus.

Meanwhile, Disney shares dropped after Bob Iger stepped down from his role as CEO. Iger, who will serve as executive chairman through 2021, will be replaced by Bob Chapek, chairman of parks, experiences and products.

On the earnings front, Virgin Galactic reported its fourth-quarter loss widened from a year ago and said its top priority is sending founder Richard Branson to space.

“We aspire to open space to… dramatically more people… then in the past,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George T. Whitesides to FOX Business’ Kristina Partsinevelos Wednesday.

Lowe’s posted disappointing same-store sales and gave full-year earnings guidance that fell short of Wall Street estimates.

Wendy’s fourth-quarter profit spiked 41 percent from a year earlier, driven by higher sales at company-operated restaurants and increased franchise royalties.

Commodities were lower with West Texas Intermediate crude oil falling 2.3 percent to $48.73 a barrel and gold sliding 0.4 percent to $1,640 an ounce.

U.S. Treasurys gained for a fifth straight day with the yield on the 10-year note falling 1.8 basis points to 1.31 percent.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE gained 0.4 percent while France’s CAC added 0.1 percent and Germany's DAX slipped 0.1 percent.


Asian markets were lower across the board, with China’s Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei both shedding 0.9 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng losing 0.8 percent.

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