Nasdaq cuts gains as Tesla shares plunge

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A plunge in Tesla shares spoiled some of the market’s comeback rally on Wednesday, pushing the Nasdaq Composite well off its session high.

The tech-heavy index was up just 0.2% after rallying more than 1% earlier in the day. Tesla traded more than 14% lower a day after rallying more than 13% to a record.

Tesla’s decline came after Wall Street analysts called for caution around the high-flying stock. Tesla is up more than 80% for 2020 even with Wednesday’s drop.

Barclays auto analyst Brian Johnson — who is forecasting a 65% drop in Tesla — said in a note “the recent price action brings to mind NASDAQ c. 1999.” He also said Tesla is “fundamentally overvalued.”

Analysts at Canaccord Genuity and New Street Research downgraded the stock, denting sentiment around it, along with news of planned Model 3 delivery delays in China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The broader market remained higher, however, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading more than 284 points higher, or 0.9%. The S&P 500 gained 0.7%. UnitedHealth and IBM rose 4% and 2.8%, respectively, to lead the Dow higher. Energy, health care and financials were up more than 1% each to lift the S&P 500.

Earlier on Wednesday, Reuters said a Chinese TV media outlet had reported that a research team at Zhejiang University had found an effective drug to treat people with the new coronavirus. The news agency, citing traders, suggested this was a reason for the move higher in stocks.

However, the World Health Organization said in a statement: “There are no known effective therapeutics against this 2019-nCoV.”

Confirmed coronavirus cases in China are near 25,000, claiming the lives of 490 people. President Donald Trump said during Tuesday’s State of the Union address that the U.S. is “working closely” with the Chinese government to contain the virus.

“We think the number of new reported cases will be a critical signpost,” said Niall MacLeod, a strategist at UBS, in a note. He added equity markets bottomed from the SARS scare in 2003 after the number of new cases began to slow.

Stocks also rose after ADP and Moody’s Analytics said U.S. private payrolls rose by 291,000 in January. That’s the biggest monthly payrolls gain in nearly five years.

The report from ADP and Moody’s Analytics is often seen as a preview to the government’s official monthly jobs report, which is set for release Friday morning.

“Since today’s data came in well above market expectations, this release is likely to inspire other forecasters to revise their forecasts,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies.

Stocks rallied on Tuesday as the market recovered from a huge sell-off on Friday, with the Dow closing 407.82 points higher. For the week, the 30-stock average was up nearly 2% entering Wednesday’s session.

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