The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.0% this week as fears of a spreading coronavirus and its potential impacts on travel and global economic growth weighed on a number of sectors, especially energy.
The market benchmark ended the week at 3,295.47, down from last week's closing level of 3,329.62. The weekly slide came despite the index hitting a fresh record intraday high Wednesday at 3,337.77.
Much of the week's drop came in Friday's session when the S&P 500 fell 0.9% as a second confirmed case of the new coronavirus was reported in the US while the number of deaths and infections in China ramped up. Adding to worries, officials at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said they expect the virus to spread to more people in the US and elsewhere.
The energy sector had the largest percentage drop of the week, sliding 4.8%, as oil futures fell on fears of travel disruptions due to the coronavirus worries. China has banned transportation in and out of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The materials and financial sectors followed with declines of 1.9% and 1.8%, respectively. Just three sectors ended the week in the black, led by a 3.1% rise in utilities, which is often treated as a safety sector. Real estate rose 1.1% while technology edged up 1.0%.
The energy sector's decliners included Cabot Oil & Gas (COG), whose shares fell 13% this week amid the lower oil futures and as analysts at UBS and Wells Fargo both reduced their price targets on the stock.
In the materials sector, shares of CF Industries (CF) fell 11% as Stephens downgraded its investment rating on the stock to equal weight from overweight while reducing its price target on the shares to $50 each from $60.
Among financial stocks, Zions Bancorp's (ZION) shares fell 8.1% on the week as investors were disappointed to see the bank's Q4 earnings per share come in below analysts' mean estimate according to Capital IQ despite higher-than-expected revenue for the quarter. Analysts at Bank of America Securities and Janney responded to the Q4 EPS miss with downgrades of their investment ratings on the stock.
On the upside, the utilities sector's gainers included American Water Works (AWK) and Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG), whose shares rose 4.1% and 4.2%, respectively. Investors seeking safety are often attracted to utilities under the view that their services tend to be in demand regardless of economic growth.
Provided by MT Newswires.