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Wednesday's Market Minute: It's Apple Vs. Coronavirus

Wednesday's Market Minute: It's Apple Vs. Coronavirus

In one corner, heavyweight titan of global digital industry, $1.5-trillion Apple Inc., (NASDAQ: AAPL) reported earnings that beat expectations with ease and gave an outlook for the rest of the year that shows sustained consumer demand for services and products that will keep chipmaker factories whirring. In the other corner, the accelerated spread of coronavirus, a novel illness from China that's cracked a hole in the stock market's seemingly unstoppable run through fear that a worldwide pandemic will stunt the growth potential of a fragile but recovering global economy.

The death count associate with the virus is climbing and the incident rate climbing even faster. Consumer activity in China has already been thwarted by its spread, and there is evidence building the disease can go undetected and is passing between people who have not been to China. What may be the determining factor for how long business activity is stifled is the severity of the disease.

Reports so far have focused on the number of infected, while some say coronavirus is a more insidious version of the common flu, which can wreak a certain type of disaster on its own with seasonal regularity. One thing is clear: economic activity is what’s most important to the stock market. Despite what the cynics say, the S&P 500’s latest rise was built on improving economic data, evidenced by leadership in cyclical groups like semiconductors and homebuilders. Where does the Fed fit in?

A passive stance undoubtedly does not hurt risk assets, and any reason for economic slowness has found its way into expectations for an interest-rate cut, as unlikely as that may seem based on recent data and the Fed’s own guidance. Will that change today? Unlikely – today’s market fight is between earnings and contagion.

Image Sourced from Pixabay


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