Stocks – Wall Street Drifts Lower at Open; Virus Delays China Restart

© Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith — Wall Street edged higher at the opening on Monday, reversing earlier losses on continued fears about the impact of the coronavirus on the world economy, amidst reports that China’s factories were slow to return to work after a lengthy and enforce New Year holiday.

By 10:20 AM ET (1520 GMT), the was up 80 points or 0.3%, while the S&P 500 and the were both up 0.4%, all seemingly content to await congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Tuesday and Wednesday before committing to any bigger moves.

Uncertainty was the watchword on Monday, owing to the difficulty of forming a coherent picture of how quickly China’s factories and shops can return to anything like their pre-holiday level of activity.

Apple (NASDAQ:) stock, for example, fell 0.6% amid conflicting reports about the reopening of factories belonging to Hon Hai Precision – also known as Foxconn – where the bulk of iPhones are made.

Reuters reported that Foxconn had reopened factories with staffing levels at around 10% of normal, while Bloomberg reported that the company had sent a message to staff on its internal app saying that it couldn’t give a date for the resumption of production.

Market research firm Trendforce said on Monday it had cut its forecast for iPhone production by about 10% to 41 million handsets for the three months through March. The only bright spot for Apple (NASDAQ:) is that the first quarter of the calendar year is in any case normally the slowest.

Tesla (NASDAQ:) stock leaped 4.9% but was off intraday highs after a highly speculative analysis in Forbes touting a possible takeover by Alphabet (NASDAQ:). Additionally, initial enthusiasm about the partial reopening of its Shanghai plant gave way to the realization that production –

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