Volatilty whacks stocks amid rising coronavirus cases

Coronavirus cases surged by more than 15,000 to at least 59,804

U.S. equity markets ended the session lower after flirting with record highs in what was a volatile session.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX9731.17573+19.21+0.20%
AMZNAMAZON.COM INC.2,134.87-15.00-0.70%
MSFTMICROSOFT CORP.185.35+1.64+0.89%

The Nasdaq pulled back from its record level after a judge temporarily agreed with Amazon’s request to temporarily halt work on the contract until a decision is made on its challenge of the award, according to sealed court documents. Microsoft and the Pentagon must temporarily put their plans to move forward with the multibillion-dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, on hold.

 AMAZON SCORES LEGAL VICTORY IN FIGHT FOR PENTAGON, MICROSOFT WAR CLOUD CONTRACT

That news, combined with rising cases of the coronavirus had investors hitting the pause button, which drove the Dow down 128 points.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES29398.08-25.23-0.09%
SP500S&P 5003380.16+6.22+0.18%

China said the number of people infected by the virus jumped by more than 15,000 to at least 59,804 after the government changed its classification system for the disease. The death toll climbed by 254 to 1,367.

Looking at individual companies, United Airlines said Wednesday it would extend its China flight cancellations through late April, matching a move by rival American Airlines on Tuesday.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
UALUNITED AIRLINES HLDG.79.55-1.44-1.78%
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.29.20-0.89-2.96%
DALDELTA AIR LINES INC.58.90-0.23-0.39%

Inovio Pharmaceuticals soared after saying it created a coronavirus vaccine. Other drugmakers were also higher.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
INOINOVIO PHARMACEUTICALS4.15+0.29+7.51%
NVAXNOVAVAX INC.7.68-0.11-1.41%

Meanwhile, Tesla shares gained after the electric-vehicle maker announced a $2 billion stock offering and a recall.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
TSLATESLA INC.800.03-3.97-0.49%

On the earnings front, Cisco Systems shares were lower after the company said it expects a pause in technology investment decisions at some businesses due to the uncertain economic environment.

PepsiCo reported its fourth-quarter profit plunged 74 percent year over year as its tax boost faded, but earnings and revenue still topped expectations.

MGM Resorts posted mixed fourth-quarter results and withdrew its 2020 guidance due to headwinds from the coronavirus outbreak and weakness in Las Vegas. Additionally, CEO Jim Murren announced he was stepping down.

Aurora Cannabis said its fiscal second-quarter loss was 1.3 billion Canadian dollars as revenue slid 11.4 percent from a year ago. Dow Jones had estimated Aurora would lose C$1 billion in the quarter after announcing goodwill and impairment charges.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
CSCOCISCO SYSTEMS INC.46.97-0.35-0.74%
PEPPEPSICO INC.146.99+0.52+0.35%
MGMMGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL31.52-0.28-0.88%
ACBAURORA CANNABIS INC.1.58+0.11+7.48%

Commodities were higher, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil rising to $51.59 a barrel and gold higher by 0.5 percent at $1,579 an ounce.

U.S. Treasurys were lower, causing the yield on the 10-year note to climb by 2.5 basis points to 1.615 percent.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE lagged, down 1.1 percent, while France’s CAC slipped 0.1 percent. Germany's DAX was little changed.

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Markets fell across Asia with China’s Shanghai Composite falling 0.7 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.3 percent and Japan’s Nikkei slipping 0.1 percent.