U.S. stocks erase most of their earlier losses after the World Health Organization says that the spike in coronavirus cases reported by China aren’t all new cases of the disease.
Nasdaq and S&P 500 are roughly flat, and the Dow pares its loss to -0.2% vs. -0.7% earlier.
10-year Treasury yield slips 1 basis point to 1.61%.
The spike in new Covid-19 cases reflects more of a change in how China is reporting them and doesn’t represent “a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Program.
Traditionally defensive sectors real estate (+0.6%) and utilities (+0.5%) are outperforming S&P 500 industry sectors, while industrials (-0.4%) and energy (-0.4%) trail the broader market.
Crude oil rises 0.8% to $51.57 per barrel; gold +0.5% to $1,579.10 per ounce.
In European markets, the Stoxx Europe 600 and Germany’s DAX ended the session roughly flat; the U.K.’s FTSE 100 closed down 1.1% after the U.K. Treasury chief quit; France’s CAC 40 fell 0.2%.
The U.S. Dollar Index is little changed at 99.08.
Happiness Biotech up 18% on coronavirus outbreak-stoked demand
Nanping, China-based Happiness Biotech (HAPP +18%) is up on more than triple normal volume, albeit on turnover of only 259K shares, on the heels of its announcement that it is experiencing a “dramatic increase” in demand for its immune system-boosting products in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
It has also donated RMB1 million of product to Shunchang General Hospital
Coronavirus death toll jumps in China
Reuters reports that the COVID-19 death toll in China spiked to 1,367 yesterday compared to 254 on Tuesday with a concomitant jump in confirmed infections (59,805 vs. 15,152) due to the use of computerized tomography (CT), a new approach. Previously, infections were confirmed via RNA tests.
The jump came a day after Chinese authorities reported the lowest number of new cases in two weeks, bolstering a forecast by Beijing’s senior medical advisor that the epidemic will end by April.
Asian stock markets are under pressure while gold and bonds have rallied.
44 new cases have been detected on a Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan.
Hong Kong has extended its suspension of schools until at least March 16.
Aurora Cannabis results reflect continued headwinds; shares down 3%
Cannabis net revenue: $63.2M (-11% sequentially) excluding provisions due to continued market headwinds.
Canadian net medical cannabis revenue: $25.6M (flat); net consumer cannabis revenue, ex-provisions: $33.5M (+11% sequentially).
Production cost/gram: $0.88 (+4% sequentially), average net selling price of medical cannabis: $7.99 (flat), average net selling price of consumer cannabis: $4.76 (-10%), average net selling of wholesale bulk cannabis: $1.90 (-45%).
Kg produced: 30,691 (-26%), Kg sold: 9,501 (-24%).
Bristol-Myers Squibb’s liso-cel fast tracked in U.S. for large B-cell lymphoma
Under Priority Review status, the FDA accepts Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (NYSE:BMY) marketing application for lisocabtagene maraleucel (liso-cel), its autologous anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy with a defined composition of purified CD8+ and CD4+ CAR T cells for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma who have received at least two prior lines of therapy.
The agency’s action date is August 17.
Holders of BMY Contingent Value Rights (CVR) (NYSE:BMY.RT) may see a rally today. Yesterday’s close was $3.36. The CVR will pay $9.00 if the FDA approves liso-cel by year-end 2020, ozanimod by year-end 2020 and ide-cel (bb2121) by March 31, 2021.