Stocks finished higher on Thursday, bouncing back from early session losses after the World Health Organization (WHO) struck an optimistic tone surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. The group deemed the virus an “international health emergency” in order to aid less-resourced countries, but did not make recommendations for travel or trade restrictions. The Dow pared a 244 point loss, to finish 124 points higher. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both rose 0.3%.
Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended in positive territory with Financials pacing the gains. The Communication Services group bucked the upward trend, with Facebook sliding 5.9% as its upbeat quarterly results were overshadowed by worries surrounding profit margins and a sharp spike in expenses. In other earnings, Microsoft gained 2.8% after exceeding Wall Street profit and revenue estimates. Tesla surged 10.4% following its top and bottom line beat, with the electric vehicle maker forecasting full-year 2020 deliveries surpassing 500,000. Meanwhile, Altria lost 4.2% after the tobacco company reported a quarterly loss and took a $4.1 billion charge on its investment of electronic cigarette maker Juul Labs.
Treasuries were little changed, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note down one basis point to 1.58%. On the data front, the first print of U.S. fourth-quarter GDP showed the economy expanded at a 2.1% pace during the October-December period, slightly above economists’ forecasts of 2.0%. Separately, initial jobless claims jumped to 216,000 in the most recent week, below the prior upwardly revised 223,000 figure. In commodities, WTI crude slipped 1.1% to $52.75/barrel. COMEX gold added 0.4% to $1,576.50/ounce.