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Stock Market News for Feb 21, 2020

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Benchmarks ended lower on Thursday, as investors nervously moved through equities amid heightened fears over the rising Coronavirus cases. Investors kept close tabs on the economic impact of the pandemic on global financial markets.

The three major indexes— the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite — closed in the red on Thursday. The Dow and S&P 500 hit 29,219.98 and 3,373.23 respectively after declining 0.4% each. The Nasdaq Composite finished at 9,750.96 after declining 0.7%.

The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) rose 7.6% to close at 15.56 on Feb 20. Finally, advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.12-to-1 ratio.

Coronavirus Makes its Presence Felt Globally

At the epicenter of the outbreak in China, the Hubei province revised the number of new confirmed cases of infections upward from 411 to 631 after counting cases in the province’s prison system on Thursday.

Hubei’s health commission issued a statement that the province now had a total of 62,662 cases as of Feb 20, after including 220 cases in Hubei’s prison system. Total death toll in the province hit 2,144 on Thursday, as 115 more died from the day before.

Speaking of the virus’ global impact, there are now more than 75,000 confirmed cases. On Feb 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 11 previous passengers on the cruise ship Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus in Nebraska.

South Korea reported its first death from Coronavirus on Thursday and confirmed 53 new cases of the pandemic in a single day, which brought the total count of infected people in the country to 104.According to the Associated Press, the mayor of the South Korean city of Daegu requested its 2.5 million citizens to refrain from going outdoors.

Tech Giants Suffer

A major reason behind the benchmark indexes’ fall on Thursday was technology companies’ shares taking the road south. Shares of Microsoft Corporation MSFT, Apple Inc. AAPL and Intel Corporation INTC fell more than 1% on Thursday as the number of Coronavirus cases climbed in China. These companies have high exposure to Chinese and South Korean manufacturing, which currently suffer because of the pandemic.

Morgan Stanley Set to Buy E*Trade

Financial holding company Morgan Stanley MS announced on Feb 20 that it was buying financial services company E*TRADE Financial Corporation ETFC for $13 billion in an all-stock deal. This is a major deal for an American bank since the financial crisis in 2008.

Shares of Morgan Stanley closed 4.6% lower while that of E*TRADE closed 21.8% higher on Thursday. According to James Gorman, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, the deal would give the company “access to both the workplace direct as well as our core financial advisory which is unchanged.”

Morgan Stanley currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 and E*TRADE carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Stocks That Made Headlines

Noble Rises 10% on Q4 Earnings Beat & Positive Outlook

Noble Corporation plc NE reported fourth-quarter 2019 loss of 33 cents per share, excluding one-time items, narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 50 cents. (Read more)

Cabot Q4 Earnings Meet, Sales Lag Estimates, FCF Drops

Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation’s COG fourth-quarter 2019 net income per share — adjusted for special items — of 30 cents met the Zacks Consensus Estimate. (Read more)

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