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US markets ease from record highs on coronavirus concerns, Cisco results


Wall Street’s main indexes eased from record highs on Thursday, pressured by shares of Cisco after its disappointing quarterly forecast, while a spike in new coronavirus cases in China weighed on the sentiment.

The Chinese province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak reported a record rise in deaths and thousands more infections using a new diagnostic method, casting fresh uncertainty over the scale of the virus outbreak.

A day earlier, investors had bought on signs that the virus spread was slowing, lifting the benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to their third straight closing highs. Dow Jones Industrials settled at an all-time high on Wednesday for the first time since Feb 6.

“The virus news coming out of China (is) a bit concerning, especially when investors thought it was all behind them,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

“We are also due for at least a little bit of a pullback.”

Cisco Systems Inc shares declined more than 6%, the biggest drag on the three indexes, after the network gear maker’s lackluster revenue and profit forecasts.

NetApp Inc tumbled about 11% as the data storage equipment maker’s current-quarter profit forecast fell short of expectations.

Technology stocks, which have surged more than 10% this year, slipped 0.4%. Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower.

At 9:54 am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 95.16 points, or 0.32%, at 29,456.26 and the S&P 500 was down 7.01 points, or 0.21%, at 3,372.44. The Nasdaq Composite was down 28.81 points, or 0.30%, at 9,697.15.

Among other stocks, Kraft Heinz Co shed 7.6% as it missed quarterly sales estimates and wrote down the value of some businesses – including coffee brand Maxwell House – by $666 million.

Caterpillar Inc rose 0.4% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the construction and mining equipment maker’s shares to “buy”.

The fourth-quarter earnings season is winding down with 351 S&P 500 companies having reported so far. Of those, 70.9% have topped profit estimates, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.31-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.45-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 24 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 46 new highs and 23 new lows.

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