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US open: Flat start to trading following some positive data

By Iain Gilbert

Date: Thursday 20 Feb 2020

US open: Flat start to trading following some positive data

(Sharecast News) - US stocks opened broadly flat on Thursday after indices closed at record highs in the previous session.
As of 1520 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.02% at 29,353.47, while the S&P 500 was 0.05% stronger at 3,387.84 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.03% lower at 9,814.13.

The Dow opened just 5.44 points higher on Wednesday after both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite hit new record highs during the previous session despite market participants remaining cautious of potential economic fallouts related to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

China's National Health Commission confirmed overnight that 74,576 cases of the new coronavirus had now been confirmed, leading to 2,118 deaths on the mainland.

Wednesday's rally was driven by minutes published late on Wednesday from the most recent US Federal Reserve meeting that showed policymakers were cautiously optimistic regarding the prospect of holding interest rates steady for the duration of 2020.

Despite the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak still weighing on sentiment following the opening bell, some stronger-than-expected data helped boost risk appetite somewhat on the Street early in the session.

On the macro front, US jobless claims continued to hover near their recent lows, reflecting still low levels of firings in the economy.

According to the Department of Labor, initial unemployment claims for the week ending on 15 February edged up by 4,000 to reach 210,000, as expected.

Elsewhere, factory sector activity in the US mid-Atlantic region roared back to life in February, according to the results of one of the most closely-followed surveys, wrong-footing analysts.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's manufacturing sector gauge jumped from a reading of 17.0 points for January to 36.7 in February. Economists had been anticipating a decrease to 10.0.

Lastly, the US leading index came in at 0.8% for January - double what economists had estimated.

The 0.8% gain was the highest month-to-month gain since October 2017, when the index rose 1.1%.

In the corporate space, Domino's Pizza shares surged 23.95% at the open following a quarterly earnings beat, while Norwegian Cruise Line shares sunk 3.53% after warning of potential adverse affects impacts from the coronavirus outbreak.

Dropbox will post earnings after the close.

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