Indexes fall, led by tech decline on mounting fears coronavirus could spread
By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, led down by technology heavyweights, after reports of new coronavirus cases in China and other countries intensified fears over its spread and impact on the global economy
coronavirus could spread" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/02-2020/21/2020-02-20T184503Z_2_LYNXMPEG1J1JO_RTROPTP_2_USA-STOCKS.jpg" alt="Indexes fall led by tech decline on mounting fears coronavirus could spread" width="300" height="225" />
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, led down by technology heavyweights, after reports of new coronavirus cases in China and other countries intensified fears over its spread and impact on the global economy.
Investors were unnerved by a quick, sharp drop in indexes in late morning trade, with some traders attributing the move to a Global Times report that a central Beijing hospital had reported 36 new cases. This raised worries about a potential explosion of infections in the capital.
Investors were already skittish after Japan reported two new deaths and South Korea reported a rise in new infections. Research suggested the virus was spreading faster than previously thought.
"The overlying question is the uncertainty over the coronavirus and whether it's going to spread further and impact global economic activity before things stabilize and ultimately get better," said Michael Sheldon, executive director and CIO at RDM Financial Group at Hightower in Westport, Connecticut.
He said investors were taking profits in some of the better-performing technology names.
Tech stocks <.SPLRCT> declined 1.1%. Microsoft Corp
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 161.99 points, or 0.55%, to 29,186.04, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 17.31 points, or 0.51%, to 3,368.84 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 81.81 points, or 0.83%, to 9,735.37.
Recent policy easing by China, a largely better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings season and hopes that the economic jolt from the coronavirus will be short-lived have pushed Wall Street's main indexes to new highs in recent weeks.
In other corporate news, ViacomCBS Inc
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.32-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.06-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 40 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 131 new highs and 54 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr, Subhranshu Sahu and David Gregorio)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.