Markets in New York sold off Thursday on fears of the coronavirus spreading within China and beyond, but rallied late in the session after the WHO (world Health Organization) declared the virus a global emergency. If this sounds counter-intuitive, the WHO statement provides some certainty to investors who crave certainty above all else. New York closed modestly up, with the Dow rising 0.43%, lifted by Microsoft, up 2.82% to a record high driven by strong earnings, and Coca-Cola, which rallied 3.25%.
Another factor in Thursday’s shaky trade was that earnings were mixed. Facebook sold off over 6% after it project tighter profit margins, because is was spending more on combating fake posts, even though the social media giant reported a Q4 earnings beat. But should those higher costs surprise anyone after months of hearings?
In contrast, the TSX closed slightly down by 0.12%, but rose steadily throughout the day. Canadian industrials were the only sector that gained while utilities such as Algonquin continued to make record highs, climbing 0.65% to break past $20. More surprising was Altagas, a midstream/nat gas/electricity quasi-utility that is paying off a giant American acquisition. Written off by some analysts, ALA-T has jumped 7% in the last five days, and spiked 2.65% on Thursday.