What's moving markets today: March 4, 2020

By CNN Business

Updated 1:37 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020
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4:20 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Dow logs second-best point gain on record

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

US stocks rallied back to life on Wednesday, retracing losses from the previous session. The Dow once again logged a day for the history books, recording its second-best point-gain in history after Monday’s rally.

Investors reacted positively to former Vice President Joe Biden’s wins on Super Tuesday, as he is viewed as a more market-friendly candidate than Senator Bernie Sanders.

The Dow closed up 1,173 points, or 4.5%.

The S&P 500 finished 4.2% higher, led by health care stocks.

The Nasdaq Composite closed up 3.9%.

Stocks are on pace for their first positive week since Valentine's Day.

All three indexes are now less than 10% below their most recent peaks.

3:40 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Dow rallies more than 1,000 points ahead of closing bell

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

With less than half an hour to go in the trading day, the Dow rallied more than 1,000 points. Stocks are rebounding sharply from yesterday's losses, helped by Joe Biden's wins on Super Tuesday.

Biden is considered a more market-friendly contender for the Democratic nomination, compared with Bernie Sanders.

The Dow was last up 1,050 points, or 4.1%, while the broader S&P 500 rallied 3.8%. The Nasdaq Composite was up 3.3%.

3:55 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Wells Fargo boosts its minimum wage

From CNN Business' David Goldman

20,000 of Wells Fargo's retail bank employees are going to get a raise.

The new minimum wage at Wells Fargo's (WFC) bank locations will rise to $15 to $20 an hour by the end of the year, the company announced Wednesday. That follows similar minimum wage increases from its competitors in recent years.

Bank of America (BAC) hiked its minimum wage to $20 in the first quarter of 2020 after raising it to $15 an hour in 2017. In June 2019, Citigroup (C) lifted its minimum wage in the United States to $15 an hour. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) also announced in November 2019 it would raise wages to at least $15 to $18 for depending on the local cost of living, and committed to $18 an hour for employees in Washington, DC.

2:50 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Dow climbs 900 points

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The Dow rallied more than 900 points in the early afternoon, as the rebound from yesterday's selloff continues. The index was up 912 points at its peak.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's big wins on Super Tuesday gave investors something to be optimistic about after worries about the coronavirus outbreak had weighed on markets for days.

The Dow was last up 850 points, or 3.3%. The broader S&P 500 climbed nearly 3%, with healthcare and utilities stocks leading gainers. The Nasdaq Composite was up 2.7%.

US oil prices settled slightly lower, falling 0.8% to $46.78 a barrel, as investors are awaiting what will come from the OPEC meeting in Vienna that concludes tomorrow.

Safe-haven gold was little changed, with prices settling just 0.1% lower at $1,641.10 an ounce.

2:44 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Stocks are overvalued, Anthony Scaramucci says

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Watch the full interview with Anthony Scaramucci:

US stocks are still overvalued even after the recent sharp selloffs over the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to Anthony Scaramucci, founder of Skybridge Capital and former White House communications director.

Even before the virus scare hit global stocks, Scaramucci thought the expansion wouldn't go into an eleventh year without seeing a correction in the stock market, he told Richard Quest on the CNN Business' digital live show Markets Now. The US economy is in its longest expansion in history.

"We recognize there will be more volatility and greater uncertainty," he said. "No matter what [coronavirus'] severity is, there is a perception that it's bad and it's slowing the economy."

Scaramucci is invested primarily in fixed income assets and cash with a very low exposure to stocks, for now. "I'm in the most defensive position" of the last 31 years, Scaramucci said.

The 10-year Treasury yield dropped below 1% for the first time in history on Tuesday, as bond prices went up. Yields and bonds move in opposite directions to each other.

"I'm not in love with that," Scaramucci said, because it's a "warning sign on the economic dashboard that there's a potential recession coming."

On politics, Scaramucci said that President Donald Trump should be afraid of his to-be-determined Democratic challenger, after he "has alienated a good 60% of the population."

1:27 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

US stocks are still king

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Even after last week's sharp selloff and tremendous volatility, US stocks continue to be the best investment, said Brian Belski, chief investment strategist and managing director at BMO Capital Markets.

"We firmly believe that stocks, in terms of the S&P 500, will be at 3,400," he said during the CNN Business' digital live show Markets Now. "

The coronavirus-linked selloff last week, which had Wall Street log its worst week since 2008, is not going to totally derail stocks, but fear defines how people trade, Belski said.

"Panic is not an investment strategy," he added. "We still think US stocks are in a 20-year bull market and this will not derail that...We think and we know that US stocks are the best and most stable assets in the world."

"We think you should be buying longer term and holding longer term," he said.

1:08 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Stocks keep going strong

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

US stocks are holding their sharp gains in the early afternoon, with all three major indexes in the green.

The Dow was up 575 points, or 2.2%, while the broader S&P 500 rose nearly 2%.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 1.8%.

As it stands, all three indexes are on track to snap a two-week losing streak. But with as much volatility in the market as we've seen over the past days, nothing is set in stone. Last week was the worst week since 2008 for Wall Street.

1:06 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

ViacomCBS puts Simon & Schuster up for sale

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

ViacomCBS is trying to become a more digitally focused media firm. Apparently, that means books printed on paper are no longer a fit.

ViacomCBS (VIAC) CEO Bob Bakish said at a Morgan Stanley investing conference Wednesday that the company is looking to sell its Simon & Schuster book publishing unit.

"We've made the determination that Simon and Schuster is not a core asset of the company. It is not video-based. It doesn't have significant connectivity to our broader business," Bakish said.

ViacomCBS, like most media firms, is making a bigger bet on streaming TV shows and movies. The company -- created from the reunification of CBS and Viacom last year following a breakup in 2006 -- owns the Paramount film studio, CBS broadcast channel and cable networks Comedy Central, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon and Showtime.

The company said on its latest earnings call that it was looking to expand its subscription-based CBS All Access streaming service and its free Pluto TV offering.

Bakish said that Simon & Schuster -- which publishes books by A-list authors Stephen King and Jenny Han -- is "a marquee asset" and noted that ViacomCBS has had "multiple unsolicited" calls about the division.

But the publishing business has been upended in the past decade due to the rise of Amazon (AMZN) -- which has led to lower prices for best sellers. So a sale of Simon & Schuster may be tough to accomplish right now, especially as companies are worried about the potential economic impact of the coronavirus. Bakish said that the company will "look at strategic alternatives" for the book business as the "market stabilizes."


11:52 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Abercrombie & Fitch warns about coronavirus

From CNN Business' Daniela Sirtori-Cortina

Abercrombie & Fitch expects the coronavirus to keep a lid on its revenue growth.

Net sales should be flat to up 2% for the 2020 fiscal year in part because of a negative $60 to $80 million coronavirus effect, the company said in an earnings statement Wednesday.

The company expects most of the impact in the period’s first half. In light of the outbreak, Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) temporarily closed its Shanghai regional home office and shuttered stores in mainland China and Milan, Italy. Lost revenue in the Asia Pacific region, Europe and North America will hurt its business, too, the company said. It also warned that it might experience supply chain disruptions.

Abercrombie & Fitch stock was still up about 8% Wednesday after the company beat earnings expectations. The company's earnings surpassed Wall Street's forecasts.