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

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BENGALURU :
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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