S&P 500, Nasdaq open at records on hopes that spread of coronavirus is slowing

U.S. stocks opened modestly higher Tuesday, but enough to carve out fresh records for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, with investors attributing continued optimism surrounding equities to signs of a slowdown of cases of the deadly coronavirus in China.

Investors also will watch congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who, in prepared remarks, reiterated that the central bank will be monitoring the novel viral outbreak.

What are major indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.37%  was up 61 points or around 0.2%, to 29,341, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.52%  advanced 13 points or 0.4% to trade at 3,365. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.57%  rose 37 points to 9,664, a climb of 0.4%.

On Monday, both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at records.

What’s driving the market?

China’s National Health Commission on Tuesday said in its daily update that 108 deaths were reported in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 1,016 deaths in mainland China since the disease emerged in December. The number of new, confirmed cases fell to 2,478 from 3,062 a day earlier, bringing the total to 42,638 on the mainland, including some of whom have since recovered and been released from treatment.

“Sadly the coronavirus crisis continues to rumble on, but it seems the rate of infections is slowing, so traders have taken that as a positive sign,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets U.K., in a note.

With some businesses in China are going back to work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday aimed at containing the virus, investors “are starting to question the initial reaction to the health crisis. Those brave enough are stepping back into the market as they feel the selloff was overdone at the start of the situation,” he said.

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