Stocks – Wall Street Trims Losses as Powell Boosts Bets Hopes of Fed Rescue

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By Yasin Ebrahim – Wall Street selling was stemmed Friday, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell hinted at a rate cut after flagging the coronavirus as “evolving risk” to the economy.

The fell 615 points, though had been down more than 1,000 points at the open. The slipped 1.07% and fell 0.22%.

Following a sharp uptick in cases in South Korea, as well as maiden infections reported in New Zealand and Nigeria, the World Health Organization on Friday raised its risk assessment of the Covid-19 to a “very high” global level from “high” in late January, but stopped short of declaring a coming pandemic.

But inside of China, however, the pace of infections are slowing and authorities in the country have stepped up efforts to restore operations as factories reopen.

Apple’s factories in China are nearing full production, said Apple (NASDAQ:) CEO Time Cook, adding that he was “very optimistic” that China was getting a handle on the outbreak.

“It feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control. You look at the numbers, they’re coming down day by day by day,” Cook said.

Apple cut early-day losses, supported the broader move higher in tech, which was led by a rally in chip stock amid strong gains for Nvidia (NASDAQ:) and Micron (NASDAQ:).

The rebound in Wall Street was also helped by a rise in energy stocks, shrugging off a steep selloff in oil prices.

Sentiment has also been supported by expectations the Federal Reserve could cut rates as soon as March, with many betting the impact of the virus will lead to a a change in the U.S. central bank’s outlook on the economy.

Goldman Sachs said today it estimates the Fed will cut rates by 75 basis points by June, indicating as many as three cuts, with first expected cut expected to be delivered at its meeting next month.

Elsewhere, Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:) slumped 17% after the company reported a surprise quarterly loss, which offset better-than-expected revenue.

Wayfair fell 13% after its quarterly earnings fell short of Wall Street estimates as costs continue to rise amid a recent ramp-up in hiring.

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