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US: Stocks descend as coronavirus rattles traders

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Wall Street indices finished in the red on Thursday retreating from solid gains as investors were once again spooked by the viral outbreak in China.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street indices finished in the red on Thursday retreating from solid gains as investors were once again spooked by the viral outbreak in China.

More than 2,118 people in the world's second-largest economy have died from the coronavirus, which has infected 74,000 people in China alone and appeared to be spreading faster abroad, with hundreds sickened in over 25 other countries.

Nations have cut flights and closed borders with China in response, and concerns reemerged over the likely damage to company profits.

That caused investors to become skittish once again, sending the Dow down 0.4 per cent to close at 29,219.98.

The S&P 500 also descended about 0.4 per cent to end at 3,373.23 while the Nasdaq fell 0.7 per cent to 9,750.96 - both closed at records on Wednesday as fears over the virus' impact waned.

Among the major companies feeling the pain was Goldman Sachs, whose shares fell 1.9 per cent.

And iPhone maker Apple, which this week said it would miss its quarterly revenue goal because of the virus, fell 1.0 per cent.

While traders were concerned over reports the virus was still spreading, Art Hogan of National Holdings said the market decline is "much more that we have not taken a pause for a bit. It's healthy."

"We've been up since October; we have not had two down days in a row in the S&P 500 yet this year," Mr Hogan said.

Recent regional business surveys show companies are more upbeat about their prospects, and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's manufacturing index released on Thursday jumped to a three-year high.

Fed Vice-Chair Richard Clarida said the US economy has "solid fundamentals," but warned the virus, could have a "noticeable impact on Chinese growth."

"Supply chains are very important, so to the extent that supply chains are disrupted by the coronavirus, that can show up in terms of inputs to the US economy," he said on CNBC, while warning that "it is too soon to tell" the extent of the impact.

On the horizon for investors is existing-home sales data from the National Association of Realtors due out Friday, and new consumer confidence numbers to be released on Tuesday.

AFP