The US equity market finished session lower on Thursday, 13 February 2020, as investors elected to book recent profits after a change in the methodology used by China resulted in a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak. At closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 128.11 points, or 0.4%, to 29,423.3, while the S&P 500 index lost 5.51 points, or 0.16%, to 3,373.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 13.99 points, or 0.14%, to 9,711.97.
China recently deployed a revised methodology to diagnose the virus, sending the number of confirmed cases soaring. It said it started to include clinically diagnosed cases in its tally. The death toll in China's Hubei province, the epicentre of the flu-like virus outbreak, rose by 242 to 1,310 as of Wednesday. A record 14,840 cases were reported in Hubei on Thursday, from 2,015 new cases nationwide a day earlier, under a new method for diagnosing cases.
The World Health Organization said Thursday that the total deaths from the outbreak stood at 1,369, while the total number of confirmed cases rose to 60,329. Traders are still trying to gauge the outbreak's effect on the economy.
The New York Fed said it would shrink repo operations starting with Friday's overnight offering. The Fed has been conducting repo offerings and Treasury-bill purchases in a bid to keep control of short-term interest rates and bolster bank reserves.
The efforts had calmed markets since a September spike. Treasuries trimmed their gains for the day.
ECONOMIC NEWS: US Jobless Claims Inch Up To 205,000- US first-time claims for unemployment benefits inched up by less than expected in the week ended February 8th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. The report said initial jobless claims crept up to 205,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 203,000. The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average was unchanged from the previous week's revised average at 212,000. Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance fell by 61,000 to 1.698 million in the week ended February 1st.
US Consumer Prices Inch Up 0.1% In January- US consumer price index inched up by 0.1% in January after rising by 0.2% in December, with higher prices for food and shelter offsetting a steep drop in gasoline prices, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The uptick in consumer prices was primarily due to an increase in shelter costs, which climbed by 0.4% in January. Prices for food and for medical care services also rose during the month, more than offsetting a 1.6% nosedive in gasoline prices. Reflecting the pullback in gas prices, which spiked by 3.1% in the previous month, energy prices slid by 0.7% in January after jumping by 1.6% in December. Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, rose by 0.2% in January after ticking up by 0.1% in the previous month.
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