KEY POINTS

  • Health officials are monitoring 83 people in Long Island for virus
  • FDA warned virus could become a pandemic
  • 10-year Treasury yield hit record low

U.S. stocks finished mixed on an erratic session on Wednesday and oil futures fell under $50 per barrel as coronavirus fears intensified. The stock market was unable to maintain gains from earlier in the session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 122.21 points to 26,959.15 while the S&P 500 slipped 11.69 points to 3,116.52 and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 15.16 points to 8,980.77.

Volume on the New York Stock Exchange totaled 4.75 billion shares with 1,096 issues advancing, 26 setting new highs, and 1,887 declining, with 349 setting new lows.

Active movers were led by Nokia Corp. (NOK), Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and Ford Motor Co. (F).

Health officials in Nassau County in New York State said they were monitoring and testing 83 people who might have had exposure to the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump and federal health authorities will hold a conference Wednesday evening to discuss the spread of the coronavirus

Peter Marks, chief of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research warned that coronavirus may become a pandemic.

“Is it definitely going to happen? No, but there is significant concern, as of overnight we have cases on six continents,” he said. “As you heard from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] yesterday, they’re kind of bracing for what might happen. From our standpoint at FDA, our goal is to maintain things as orderly as we can and try to maintain adequate amounts of supplies in the supply chain.

China has reported nearly 80,000 cases of the coronavirus, while South Korea reported 169 new cases, raising the country’s total number of infections to 1,146. Italy now has at least 325 infections with cases reported beyond the northern regions where the virus first emerged. Spain has locked down a hotel in the Canary Islands with about 1,000 guests and workers after am Italian doctor was found to be infected.

“The ultimate impact [of the virus] remains entirely unknown at this stage,” said Eleanor Creagh, a Sydney-based strategist at Saxo Capital Markets. “And uncertainty is the enemy of conviction.”

Investors need to be prepared for the risk of a market correction,” said Pramod Atluri, a portfolio manager at Capital Group. “It should not come as a surprise that heightened global uncertainty – like news about the further spread of coronavirus and its impact on global supply chains – can hurt valuations which in some areas look priced to perfection,” Atluri added.

“Unfortunately, I think this is going to turn into a full-blown correction,” said David Bianco, chief investment strategist for the Americas at DWS.” “It’s a material impact to our earnings outlook and it’s probably going to be another year of flattish earnings growth.”

The Commerce Departmentreported that new home sales climbed by 7.9% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 units, the highest such level since July 2007.

Overnight in Asia, markets finished lower. China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.83%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.73%, and Japan’s Nikkei-225 fell 0.79%.

In Europe markets finished mixed, as Britain’s FTSE-100 gained 0.35%, France’s CAC-40 rose 0.09% and Germany’s DAX dropped 0.12%.

Crude oil futures plunged 2.34% at $48.73 per barrel and Brent crude inched up 0.04% at $52.83. Gold futures dropped 0.6%.

The euro edged up 0.02% at $1.0883 while the pound sterling slipped 0.76% at $1.2904.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped 1.5% to 1.31% while yield on the 30-year Treasury fell 0.44% to 1.796%.