Friday's Stock Market Open: US Equities Open Mixed Despite Persistent Coronavirus Worries

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  • Asian markets finished mixed
  • Retail sales in the U.S. climbed by 0.3% in January
  • China confirmed 5,090 new cases of the coronavirus

U.S. stocks opened mixed on Friday as traders parsed through economic data and efforts by China to contain its coronavirus epidemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 6.5 points to 29,416.81 while the S&P 500 rose 3.25 points to 3,377.19 and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 17.19 points to 9,729.16.

China’s National Health Commission reported on 5,090 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. A total of 1,380 people in mainland China have died from the virus as of Thursday evening.

Retail sales in the U.S. climbed by 0.3% in January, matching most forecasts.

The import price index came in flat in January. Excluding fuel, prices of imported goods climbed 0.2%, the government said Friday,

U.S. industrial production slipped by 0.3% in January, the fourth such decline in the past five months, the Federal Reserve said Friday. Capacity utilization dropped to 76.8% in January, the lowest rate since September 2017.

Nvidia (NVDA) shares rose 6.2% after its quarterly results beat analyst expectations.

“We’re looking now at a very modest positive quarter for the fourth quarter,” said Jon Adams, investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management. “If we do see earnings growth pick up here, which we think it will throughout 2020, that will bode well for U.S. equities.”

“The recovery looks rational, although it may appear early,” said Timothy Moe, chief Asia Pacific regional equity strategist. “To the extent that investors are looking at equity market performance after previous virus outbreak episodes as a template for current potential performance, the current macro environment does not appear as supportive for equities.”

Overnight in Asia, markets finished mixed. China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.38%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.31%, and Japan’s Nikkei-225 slipped 0.59%.

In Europe markets traded mixed, as Britain’s FTSE-100 dropped 0.17%, France’s CAC-40 fell 0.19% and Germany’s DAX gained 0.05%.

Crude oil futures gained 1.38% at $52.13 per barrel and Brent crude gained 1.74% at $57.32. Gold futures rose 0.24%.

The euro gained 0.14% at 1.0857 while the pound sterling slipped 0.16% at 1.3021.