Stocks Wipe Out Early Gains To Close At 3-Year Low On Coronavirus Fears

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Stocks rose Friday morning, dipped, then rose again as the market continued a rocky ride, exhibitors struggled to hold on to gains and WarnerMedia parent AT&T scrapped a major stock repurchase plan to conserve cash.

Investors are weighing a massive stimulus package being finalized by Congress against the rapid spread of the coronavirus infection, corporate distress and surging unemployment in the U.S. Market players are really hoping indexes will be able to lock in Thursday’s gains, although they may be disappointed. If the S&P 500 did end today’s session higher, it would the first back-to-back gain in more than a month.

In mid-morning trade the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.38%, or 75 points.

The moves follows a modest recovery Thursday in choppy trading driving by tech and energy stocks after weeks of stomach churning declines.

Exhibitors in particular had rallied and the upward trajectory continued sort of on Friday The industry has asked for a cash injection from Congress that will help it survive a period where theaters across the country are shuttered. Today, they were holding steady, led by Cinemark, up about 5%. AMC Entertainment, the nation’s biggest chain, Imax and National Cinemedia were bobbing between positive and negative territory, making it hard to tell where they would shake out.

AT&T said Friday it was canceling a planned $4 billion accelerated share repurchase in the second quarter. “While our business continues to operate effectively during the Covid-19 global pandemic,” the company said in an SEC filing,, “we have decided at this time to cancel this agreement and any other repurchases to maintain flexibility and focus on continued investment in serving our customers, taking care of our employees and enhancing our network, including nationwide 5G.”

Struggling Live Nation, which got a boost yesterday when investor Liberty Media paid a loan so it wouldn’t breach covenants, was down up 1%. Elsewhere, Disney was off 1.4%; Comcast off 1.5%; ViacomCBS about flat; Netflix up 3.7%.

But prices were changing by the second.

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