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4:44pm ET, 2/19/2020 - Close Update: S&P 500, Nasdaq Reach New Highs on Rallying Tech Stocks, China Rate Cut Optimism
US stocks closed on a high note in Wednesday's session as the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite reached new highs thanks in part to a rally driven by technology stocks and as investors remained optimistic that China will cut its lending interest rate on Thursday.

The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 were slightly off their highs earlier in the day, up 0.9% and 0.5%, respectively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.4% higher but weighed down by Walmart (WMT), its biggest decliner, which closed 1.6% lower. Also boosting stock indexes was Apple (AAPL), gaining 1.5%. The iPhone maker repaired much of the damage it suffered Tuesday after warning it would not meet its Q2 guidance because of supplier problems in China from the coronavirus.

China is expected to slash its benchmark lending rate on Thursday in an attempt to counter the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on business, according to Reuters, which cited a survey of traders and analysts. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization's daily situation report said there were 1,752 new cases of the coronavirus in China as of Wednesday, with 136 new deaths. The number of new cases declined in comparison to recent daily tallies.

In economic news, January housing starts fell 3.6% in January to a 1.567 million pace against an expected 1.42 million and after an upward revision to 1.626 million in December. The January producer price index headline jumped an unexpected 0.5% against an expected 0.1% in December. Strength was in the services component where prices rose 0.7%, the largest increase since October 2018 against unchanged previously.

Meanwhile, the Federal Open Market Committee minutes from the Jan. 28 to 29 meeting said members judged it "appropriate to maintain" the 1.50% to 1.75% fed funds target range to support sustained economic expansion and "strong labor market conditions," although they said downside risks remained and the coronavirus warranted "close watching."

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose 2.5% to $53.36 per barrel. Natural gas was down 0.8% to $1.97 per 1 million BTU. Gold futures were up 0.5% to $1,612.20 an ounce, while silver was up 1.1% to $18.36 an ounce.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 2.1% to $11.18 while the United States Natural Gas Fund up 1.2% to $15.28. Among precious-metal funds, the Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 1.8% to $29.75 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.6% to $151.79. The iShares Silver Trust was up 1.3% to $17.23.

US MARKETS

NYSE Composite Index was up 47.81 points (+0.34%) to 14,086.82

Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 115.84 points (+0.40%) to 29,348.03

S&P 500 was up 15.86 points (+0.47%) to 3,386.15

Nasdaq Composite Index was up 84.44 points (+0.87%) to 9,817.18

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

FTSE 100 was up 75.01 points (+1%) to 7,457.02

DAX was up 107.81 points (+0.79%) to 13,789

CAC 40 was up 54.42 (+0.9%) to 6,111.24

Nikkei 225 was up 206.90 points (+0.89%) to 23,400.70

Hang Seng Index was up 125.61 points (+0.46%) to 27,655.81

Shanghai Composite Index was down 9.57 points (-0.32%) to 2,975.40

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) TSLA (+7%) Piper Sandler boosts price target to $928

(+) ENPH (+42%) Q4 results top estimates

(+) SSTI (+33%) Results for Q4 top expectations

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) SGMS (-18%) Swings to loss in Q4, misses Street views

(-) GRPN (-44%) Misses Q4 estimates

(-) KNL (-12%) Q4 results miss expectations

3:54pm ET, 2/19/2020 - US Stocks Poised to Close Higher as S&P 500, Nasdaq Reach New Highs
US stocks were indicated to end on a high note in Wednesday's session as the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite reached new highs thanks in part to a rally driven by technology stocks and as investors remained optimistic that China will cut its lending interest rate on Thursday.

The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 were slightly off their highs earlier in the day, up 0.9% and 0.5%, respectively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.4% higher, but weighed down by Walmart (WMT), its biggest decliner.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization's daily situation report said there were 1,752 new cases of the coronavirus in China as of Wednesday, with 136 new deaths. The number of new cases declined in comparison to recent daily tallies.

12:53pm ET, 2/19/2020 - Midday Update: Stocks Advance Sending S&P 500, Nasdaq to Record Highs as Coronavirus Concerns Ease
US stocks climbed on Wednesday sending the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index to record highs thanks in part to a rally in technology stocks.

Signs that the spread of the coronavirus was slowing was helping boost the market. The Nasdaq was up 1% while the S&P 500 was up 0.6%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also was 0.6% higher. The technology sector was the best performing group in the S&P 500 followed by financials.

Official data in China showed 1,749 new cases of the coronavirus nationwide, with 136 deaths. The number of new cases fell compared with recent daily tallies.

Stock indexes were boosted by gains in shares of Apple (AAPL), which repaired much of the damage suffered Tuesday after it warned it would not meet its Q2 guidance because of supplier problems in China from the coronavirus. Apple gained 1.6%.

In economic news, January US housing starts came in at a 1.567 million annual pace compared with the consensus of 1.42 million, while permits also were ahead of consensus, according to Econoday.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose 2.5% to $53.37 per barrel. Natural gas was down 2 cents to $1.96 per 1 million BTU. Gold futures were up 0.2% to $1,606.80 an ounce, while silver was up 0.3% to $18.20 an ounce.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 2.5% to $11.22 while the United States Natural Gas Fund up 0.3% to $15.14. Among precious-metal funds, the Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 1% to $29.52 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.2% to $151.24. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.2% to $17.04.

Here's where the markets stood at midday:

US MARKETS

NYSE Composite Index was up 62.94 points (+0.5%) to 14,101.95

Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 160.33 points (+0.6%) to 29,392.52

S&P 500 was up 20.60 points (+0.6%) to 3,390.89

Nasdaq Composite Index was up 95 points (+1%) to 9,827.74

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

FTSE 100 was up 75.01 points (+1%) to 7,457.02

DAX was up 107.81 points (+0.8%) to 13,789

CAC 40 was up 54.42 (+0.9%) to 6,111.24

Nikkei 225 was up 206.90 points (+0.9%) to 23,400.70

Hang Seng Index was up 125.61 points (+0.5%) to 27,655.81

Shanghai Composite Index was down 9.57 points (-0.3%) to 2,975.40

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index was up 56.77 points (+0.6%) to 9,067.30

NYSE Financial Sector Index was up 37.02 points (+0.4%) to 8,883.27

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was up 66.94 points (+0.4%) to 18,448.41

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) TSLA (+7.3%) Piper Sandler boosts price target to $928

(+) ENPH (+40%) Q4 results top estimates

(+) SSTI (+28%) Results for Q4 top expectations

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) SGMS (-19%) Swings to loss in Q4, misses Street views

(-) GRPN (-41%) Misses Q4 estimates

(-) KNL (-12%) Q4 results miss expectations

12:46pm ET, 2/19/2020 - European Equity Benchmarks Close Higher led by Broad Market Rally
The broad-based major European indices closed higher in Wednesday trading as a broad-market rally lifted the FTSE, CAC and DAX.

In economic news, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector declined 3.1% in December compared with November in the euro area (EA19) and by 2.8% in the EU27, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Compared with December 2018, production in construction fell 3.7% in the euro area and 2.6% in the EU27. The average production in construction for full-year 2019, compared with 2018, increased 1.8% in the euro area and 2.4% in the EU27.

The largest monthly decreases in production in construction were in Germany (-8.7%), Poland (-3.4%) and Hungary (-3.0%), while the largest monthly increases were in Slovakia (+3.4%), Czechia (+1.6%) and Sweden (+0.3%). The largest annual decreases in production in construction were reported in Belgium (-6.5%), Spain (-6.2%) and Poland (-5.5%), while the highest increases were recorded in Romania (+23.1%), Czechia (+6.2%), Slovenia and Sweden (both +2.9%).

In the UK, the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 1.8% in January, up from 1.4% in December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The largest contribution to the CPIH 12-month inflation rate came from housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels.

"The rise in inflation is largely the result of higher prices at the pump and airfares falling by less than a year ago," said ONS Head of Inflation Mike Hardie. "In addition, gas and electricity prices were unchanged this month, but fell this time last year due to the introduction of the energy price cap.

ONS also reported that producer price inflation was 1.1% on the year to January, up from 0.9% in December. The growth rate of prices for materials and fuels used in the manufacturing process was 2.1% for the year to January, up from 0.9% in December. Petroleum products made the largest upward contribution to the change in the annual rate of output inflation, while imported metals provided the largest upward contribution to the change in the annual rate of input inflation.

ONS also said that annual house prices grew across all regions of the UK, the first time this has happened in nearly two years, with London seeing its strongest growth since October 2017.

UK average house prices increased by 2.2% over the year to December, up from 1.7% in November. Average house prices increased over the year in England to (L)252,000 ($327,176), or 2.2%, Wales to (L)166,000 (2.2%), Scotland to (L)152,000 (2.2%) and Northern Ireland to (L)140,000 (2.5%). The lowest annual growth rate was in the South East of England (1.2%), followed by the West Midlands (1.4%).

And in Germany, the price adjusted stock of orders in manufacturing in December decreased a seasonally and calendar adjusted 0.3% from the previous month, based on provisional data from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). Domestic orders not yet completed fell 0.1% from the previous month, while the stock of foreign orders decreased 0.3%. The stock of orders includes the total of new orders received by the end of the reference month that have not led to any turnover and have not been cancelled by that time.

In equities, bookmaking company Flutter Entertainment and mining company Evraz led the FTSE sharply higher in London rising 4.1% and 3.5% respectively, followed by turnaround firm Melrose Industries, which climbed 3.4%. Online supermarket Ocado Group and investment manager Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust were up 3.2% each, while hospitality company InterContinental Hotels Group closed 3.1% higher.

In Frankfurt, telecommunications operator Deutsche Telekom led the DAX into positive territory climbing 4.6%, followed by adhesives manufacturer Covestro and internet company Wirecard, which rose 2.9% and 2.8% respectively. Athletic apparel, footwear and equipment company Adidas was up 2.5%, while semiconductor company Infineon and chemical and consumer goods company Henkel gained 2.1% and 1.8% respectively.

And in Paris, semiconductor company STMicroelectronics led the CAC higher rising 4.6%, followed by luxury goods company Kering and oilfield services company TechnipFMC, which climbed 3% each, and industrial conglomerate Bouygues, which gained 2.7%. Luxury goods company Louis Vuitton and automaker Renault were up 2.5% each, while luxury goods company Hermes International, aerospace and defense firm Safran, and eyewear company EssilorLuxottica each closed 1.8% higher.

The FTSE climbed 1.02%, the DAX gained 0.79%, and the CAC-40 rose 0.90%.

Price: 28.25, Change: +0.19, Percent Change: +0.66

12:16pm ET, 2/19/2020 - S&P 500, Nasdaq Hit Record Highs Wednesday as Coronavirus Worries Ebb
US stocks climbed on Wednesday sending the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index to record highs thanks in part to a rally in technology stocks.

Signs that the spread of the coronavirus was slowing was helping boost the market. While the Nasdaq was up 0.9% and the S&P 500 was up 0.6%, the indexes are slightly off their highs for the session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.5% higher. The Dow was about 182 points from its all-time intraday peak.

On Wednesday, official data in China showed 1,749 new cases of the coronavirus nationwide, with 136 deaths. The number of new cases fell compared with recent daily tallies.