FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2020, file photo specialist Scott Vasilisin, right works with trader Michael Milano on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 22. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

US stocks rise as health authorities focus on China virus

January 22, 2020 - 11:59 am

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose in midday trading Wednesday as health authorities around the world take steps to monitor and contain a deadly virus that could spread globally.

China and other countries are ramping up screenings for fever on aircraft and at airports. The World Health Organization is expected to meet Wednesday to determine whether the virus is a health emergency. As of Wednesday, more than 500 people were confirmed infected with the coronavirus and 17 had died from the illness, which can cause pneumonia and other severe respiratory symptoms.

Financial markets slid Tuesday over fears that the outbreak in China would spread as people there were preparing to travel for the Lunar New Year. The virus has been confirmed in five countries, including China, the U.S., Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

Technology stocks led the gains early on. Many of the companies in the sector are reliant on China for sales and could suffer if that nation’s economy slumps. IBM was a standout following good fourth-quarter earnings.

Communications companies made solid gains. AT&T rose 1.5%.

Industrial stocks fell and Boeing shed 2.2%. Energy companies also fell as oil prices slipped more than 2%.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.3% as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern time. (backslash)The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 34 points, or 0.1%, to 29,230. The Nasdaq rose 0.6%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.3%. European markets were mostly lower and Asian markets climbed.

SLOW STREAM: Netflix fell 1.9% after the entertainment company gave investors a weak forecast for new subscribers during the first quarter. The company is facing tougher competition from Disney, Apple and others. It warned investors that it is seeing more U.S. customers dropping the service.

COMPUTING GAINS: IBM rose 3.5% after giving investors a solid profit forecast for the year. The technology company ended 2019 with surprisingly good profits and revenue.

CHARGING AHEAD: Electric vehicle maker Tesla rose 8.1%, attaining a $100 billion market capitalization for the first time.

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