Wall Street jumps as China stimulus measures soothe virus worries

(Reuters) - The Nasdaq hit a record high on Tuesday and the S&P 500 posted its biggest one-day gain in about six months as fears of a heavy economic impact from the coronavirus outbreak waned after China’s central bank intervened.

The Dow notched its biggest single-day rise in more than five months, as the stock market recovered from steep losses in the prior week.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) injected a total of 1.7 trillion yuan ($242.74 billion) through reverse repos on Monday and Tuesday, as the central bank said it sought to stabilize financial market expectations and restore market confidence.

The stimulus boosted investor sentiment even as fallout from the coronavirus from China is expected to deliver a short, sharp blow to both Chinese and global economic activity in the first quarter.

“The market is just looking beyond coronavirus and they are cheering” China’s financial actions, said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist with Ally Invest.

“What history has shown us is anytime there is any sort of epidemic or some global threat from a virus standpoint, what we have seen is that the market will bottom,” Bell said. “Everybody is just looking past that, even though the market didn’t move that much lower on the news, at least here in the U.S.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 407.82 points, or 1.44%, to 28,807.63, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 48.67 points, or 1.50%, to 3,297.59 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 194.57 points, or 2.1%, to 9,467.97.

Data showed new orders for U.S.-made goods increased by the most in nearly 1-1/2 years in December, flattered by robust demand for defense aircraft.

Technology shares .SPLRCT led gains among the S&P 500 sectors, rising 2.6%. Shares of chip companies, which are particularly exposed to China, surged, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor index .SOX up 3.1%.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Shares of Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O fell 2.5%, after the Google parent posted its first holiday-quarter revenue miss in five years.

Fourth-quarter earnings season is roughly halfway done, with S&P 500 companies expected to have increased earnings by 1.6% in the period, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. However, earnings in 2020 are expected to rise 8.7%.

“Though the Q4 earnings do feel somewhat underwhelming, they are consistent with the market view that they will grow from here,” said Nela Richardson, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

Investors were also keeping an eye on the U.S. Democratic presidential nominating race, where technical problems delayed the Iowa caucus results. Results are expected at 5 p.m. ET.

In company news, shares of Tesla Inc TSLA.O surged 13.7%, extending a stunning rally for the electric vehicle maker's stock.

Shares of eBay EBAY.O jumped 8.8% after a Wall Street Journal report that New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange ICE.N has made a takeover offer for the company.

Ralph Lauren Corp RL.N shares rose 9.2% after the company's results.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.45-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.34-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 67 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 122 new highs and 54 new lows.

About 8 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, above the 7.6 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Sruthi Sankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis