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US: Nasdaq, S&P 500 end at records as coronavirus worries subside

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As fears subsided about the economic damage likely to result from the new coronavirus outbreak in China, Wall Street powered to a strong close on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 hitting all-time highs.

[NEW YORK] As fears subsided about the economic damage likely to result from the new coronavirus outbreak in China, Wall Street powered to a strong close on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 hitting all-time highs.

The Covid-19 virus epidemic in China has killed more than 2,000 people in the country and spread worldwide, spurring flight cancellations, border closures and the shuttering of some businesses.

Iran announced its first two patients with the virus, both of whom died.

But Chinese authorities have responded with aggressive stimulus measures to help boost the economy.

While previous trading sessions had seen investors hold fire on virus fears, there was no sign of that on Wednesday, and the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 per cent to close at 29,348.03.

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The tech-rich Nasdaq jumped 0.9 per cent to 9,817.18 and the broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.5 per cent to 3,386.15 - both record-setting finishes.

"I don't think the coronavirus is really important anymore. We are already seeing the new cases tail off. so probably the worst is over," said Maris Ogg of Tower Bridge Advisors.

"The effects will take some time to overcome, but the effects are not that important (in) the long-term overall."

Investors also got good news in US housing data showing a better-than-expected result, with new construction in January contracting just 3.6 per cent, a remarkably strong start to the year.

Housing starts were boosted by construction of apartment buildings which climbed by 3.0 per cent compared to December.

And building permits - seen as a more reliable bellwether of health of the housing sector - rose 9.2 per  cent.

Apple was among the star performers on Thursday, gaining 1.5 per cent to US$323.62.

The company spooked investors earlier in the week when it announced revenue for the current quarter would be below forecasts and worldwide iPhone supply would face constraints due to the outbreak in China.

Electric automaker Tesla also saw its share price surge again, rising by 6.9 per cent.

AFP

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