Stocks end lower as coronavirus cases increase outside of China
The S&P 500 ended down for the holiday-shortened week, as did the other major averages, amid renewed concerns around the coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases has risen outside of China, including a spike seen in South Korea over the last two days. Apple (AAPL) headlined the companies who said this week that their quarterly results would be hurt by the coronavirus outbreak, but the iPhone maker was joined by others that included Coca-Cola (KO), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Lululemon (LULU), to name just a few.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., Markit's manufacturing PMI dropped 1.1 points to 50.8 in the flash February report. Meanwhile, the February services index tumbled 4 points to 49.4, making for its worst print since October 2013. Existing home sales fell 1.3% to a 5.46M rate in January. In energy news, Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. rig count is up 1 from last week at 791.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Deere (DE) jumped 7% after the agricultural equipment maker reported better than expected sales and earnings, stating that its first quarter performance reflected early signs of stabilization in the U.S. farm sector. While saying that it is encouraged by early signs of stabilization in 2020, Deere also said it is closely monitoring any coronavirus impacts on suppliers and getting parts to operations internationally.
Sprint (S) shares rose 6% after the company and T-Mobile US (TMUS) announced that they have amended their merger agreement. Following the closing, Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) and SoftBank (SFTBY) are expected to hold approximately 43% and 24%, respectively, of the fully diluted New T-Mobile shares, with the remaining approximately 33% held by public shareholders. Following the change in the terms, the companies now see the deal closing as early as April 1.
First Solar (FSLR) slid 14.7% after the company posted disappointing Q4 results, mainly owing to project slippage. First Solar also announced that it is reviewing options for its U.S. project development business in light of the "significant evolution" of developing utility-scale PV projects in the country and the contention from CEO Mark Widmar that "First Solar, at its core, is a technology and module manufacturing company."
Meanwhile, shares of Coca-Cola were in focus after the company reaffirmed its full year guidance, noting that it currently estimates an approximate 2-3 point impact to unit case volume, 1-2 point impact to organic revenue and 1-2 penny impact to earnings per share for the first quarter from the recent outbreak of coronavirus.
Additionally, eBay (EBAY) shares closed 1.4% higher after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is working on a possible sale of its classified-ads business, which could be worth roughly $10B.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Chewy (CHWY), which rose 4% after RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney upgraded the stock to Outperform from Sector Perform with an unchanged $38 price target. Also higher were Eldorado Gold (EGO) and Dropbox (DBX), which gained a respective 32.1% and 20% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Cheetah Mobile (CMCM), which slid 16.7% after the company confirmed that some of its Google (GOOGL) accounts have been disabled. Also lower were Valaris (VAL) and Appian (APPN), which fell 26.4% and 22.4%, respectively, after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow fell 227.57, or 0.78%, to 28,992.41, the Nasdaq lost 174.37, or 1.79%, to 9,576.59, and the S&P 500 declined 35.51, or 1.05%, to 3,337.72.