Tech companies lead US stocks higher as virus fears subside

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies led stocks higher inmiddaytrading Wednesday as investors set aside some of their concerns about the virus outbreak that originated in China.

New cases of the virus fell for a second straight day. China’s top diplomat told counterparts in Southeast Asia that the situation “is under effective control” in the province where the outbreak is centered.

The gainsmark a reversal from Tuesday when tech stocks led the market lower after Apple warned that its revenue would take a hit because of the outbreak. Apple rose 1.6% and chipmaker Nvidia jumped 5%.

Bond prices fell, pushing yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.56% from 1.55% late Tuesday. JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and other banks climbed.

Navigation device maker Garmin and chipmaker Analog Devices jumped after reporting strong earnings. Safe-play assets like real estate companies and utilities lagged behind.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.6% as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 150 points, or 0.5%, to 29,380. The Nasdaq rose 0.9%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.6%. Markets in Europe and Asia climbed.

FRESHENING THE PILLOWS: Bed Bath & Beyond rose 3.3% after the home goods retailer rolled out initiatives to turn the struggling chain around. The company will spend $1 billion this year reinvesting in stores, upgrading technology, and on debt reduction and share buybacks. The moves come a month after the company withdrew its annual financial forecast because of weak results.

MISSING INGREDIENTS: Struggling meal kits company Blue Apron plunged 22.5% after saying it is considering a sale. The pioneer of the meal-kit craze has seen its value dwindle from nearly $2 billion to $58 million since it became a public company in 2017. It has faced increasingly tougher competition from online rivals and grocers, including Kroger and Walmart.

SOLID CONSTRUCTION: Several homebuilders gained ground following a surprisingly good government report on new home construction. The report also showed that applications for building permits jumped 9.2% in January. Beazer Homes rose 4.3% and Hovnanian Enterprises rose 1.4%.

VIRUS UPDATE: The virus has now infected more than 75,000 people globally, though the overwhelming majority of them are in China. Scientific instrument maker Agilent, which gets about 19% of its revenue from there, is the latest company to warn that the virus’ economic impact will hurt profits.

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