January 23, 2020 / 6:57 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street hit by coronavirus concerns, weak earnings

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* Dow component Travelers slumps after results

* China virus scare hits casino stocks

* Airlines gain after Southwest, American Airlines earnings

* Indexes slide: Dow 0.39%, S&P 0.26%, Nasdaq 0.14% (Updates to early afternoon)

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes fell on Thursday, as mounting worries over a coronavirus outbreak in China and disappointing corporate earnings prompted investors to hit the brakes after a strong start to the year.

China put millions of people on lockdown in two cities at the epicentre of the outbreak that has killed 17 people and infected nearly 600.

Fears of the fast-spreading coronavirus hitting the global economy have knocked world stock markets off record highs this week, while early earnings reports have brought few surprises to investors.

“There is some fear that it (coronavirus) appears to be spreading, and certainly there are some fears about what it is going to do to the Chinese economic growth,” said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments.

“People are generally trading off the assumption of a very bad outcome.”

At 1:23 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.39% to 29,071.02.

The S&P 500 edged 0.26% lower to 3,313.19 and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.14% to 9,371.02.

After taking a hit earlier this week on worries about travel demand, airline stocks recovered, with Southwest Airlines Co gaining 2.3% and American Airlines Group Inc rising 1.4% after quarterly earnings.

Casino and hotel operators including Wynn Resorts Ltd , Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd and Las Vegas Sands Corp, which draw a large portion of their revenue from China, were down between 0.% and 4%.

In another sign of caution, the U.S. Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators fell 0.3% in December compared with the previous month.

Citi analysts said there has been only one occasion when the index has slipped below zero and not followed by a recession within 18 months.

Financial stocks were hit by insurer Travelers Cos Inc’s 5.4% fall after its executives discussed a challenging tort lawsuit environment and said losses from those cases have come in worse than the company’s expectations.

Analysts expect earnings at S&P 500 companies to have dropped 0.7% in the fourth quarter versus a 0.3% fall estimated at the start of 2019, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Intel Corp, set to report after markets close, was up 1.0%, while Netflix Inc rebounded from losses sparked by a disappointing forecast.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.59-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.67-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 37 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 69 new highs and 41 new lows. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Maju Samuel)

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