Global Stocks Tick Up as Virus Fears Fade Again

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02/14/2020 | 01:47 pm

By Avantika Chilkoti

Global stocks edged higher Friday as investors' concerns about a sharp rise in coronavirus cases from earlier in the week faded, allowing equities to resume a rally that has taken U.S. and European benchmarks to fresh records this year.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up less than 0.1%, while the Stoxx Europe 600 index gained almost 0.2%. Over in Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.4% higher.

Investors had briefly grown concerned this week about when the coronavirus outbreak might peak after Chinese authorities changed the criteria for diagnosis, leading to a dramatic increase in the new cases. But stocks in the U.S. and in Europe have largely continued their rally from last year on speculation that central banks and governments will take steps to shield the global economy from the impact of the outbreak.

"The market wants to believe this is a one-quarter blip and we're back to the races," said Neil Dwane, global strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

Investors also largely shrugged off the signs of fresh tensions between Washington and Beijing that emerged overnight after the U.S. charged Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and two of its U.S. subsidiaries with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to steal trade secrets. Tensions between the two nations had roiled markets for large parts of last year, and eased only briefly after they sealed an initial trade accord that failed to address a number of crucial issues.

"We always thought the 'phase one' trade deal actually resolve tensions between the U.S. and China," said Simona Gambarini, markets economist at Capital Economics in London. "The two economies are based on totally different foundations."

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Ahead of the opening bell in New York, Nvidia advanced around 7% after the graphics-chip maker's fourth-quarter earnings topped Wall Street's expectations.

Expedia Group gained over 12% in offhours trading after the online travel company projected cost savings and growth in a measure of profit for this year. Shares in Arista Networks dropped over 8% after the cloud-networking provider reported a drop in fourth-quarter revenue.

Among European equities, Royal Bank of Scotland Group was among the biggest losers. The stock declined 5.8% after the U.K. bank reduced the size of its investment banking business and projected as much as GBP1 billion ($1.3 billion) in costs this year, stemming from strategic changes it plans to make.

Later in the day, investors will be watching for the latest retail sales data from the U.S. Commerce Department, which will provide fresh signs on whether holiday-season spending continued into the new year. Economists expect to see a 0.3% rise in sales during January compared with the prior month.

Write to Avantika Chilkoti at Avantika.Chilkoti@wsj.com

 

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