US stocks continue climb after Nasdaq, S&P 500 records

Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange February 4, 2020. — Reuters pic
Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange February 4, 2020. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Feb 12 — Wall Street stocks continued to advance today, with investors showing continued confidence that a viral outbreak in China will not seriously disrupt the global economy.

While the death toll from China’s new coronavirus epidemic climbed past 1,100, the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, raising hopes the outbreak could peak later this month.

About 20 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.7 per cent to 29,490.94, which would be an all-time high if sustained through the close.

The broad-based S&P 500 and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index both inched to records yesterday, and continued to march higher when markets opened.

The Nasdaq was up 0.6 per cent to 9,692.41, while the S&P 500 climbed 0.5 per cent to 3,374.99.

Markets are watching US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in his second day of testimony in Congress, where he repeated that of the virus outbreak poses a risk to the global economy. But while it is sure to hit China, the impact on the US is less clear.

Shares of retailer Bed, Bath and Beyond were down more than a quarter point after the company announced a drop in sales in December and January, eroding share price gains of 53 per cent in 2019.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected in the Senate later in the day to testify on President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for next year.

The spending plan drops the president’s previous goal of eliminating the federal deficit over the next 10 years, something Powell alluded to in his testimony when he called for a more sustainable budget so policymakers would have the ability to stabilize the economy in case of a recession.

Investors also are looking ahead to Friday’s release of retail sales data in addition to fourth quarter earnings from Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, yesterday. — AFP

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