Stocks Drift Higher as China Takes Measures to Help Coronavirus-Hit Businesses

The stock market is in the green after Chinese officials said they would take measures to help companies impacted by the coronavirus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened up nearly 100 points, while the S&P 500 grew about 12 points and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 50 points. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that Beijing would assist coronavirus-hit businesses by connecting their factories with technology firms to pinpoint weak links in their supply chains.

It marked the latest step that authorities in the country have taken to limit the economic casualties stemming from the illness, which has killed more than 2,000 people and infected upwards of 75,200.

Travel restrictions in China have halted activity in heavily affected areas, particularly in the outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan. Many big-name brands and retailers including Adidas, Skechers and Burberry have opted to close their doors or cut back on opening hours, while business operations at corporate headquarters have been significantly scaled back. Some companies even lowered their forecasts over fears that the coronavirus will continue to spread.

Following the prolonged shutdown, some factories in China have begun to reopen and workers are returning to manufacturing facilities — but uncertainty remains. China is expected to release official manufacturing data on Feb. 29.

“Many local governments are not allowing factories to reopen because they don’t feel they have the virus contained as of yet,” Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America SVP Andy Polk told FN last week. “They do not want to open up travel only to see the virus cripple everything several weeks later. This is now putting real, increased pressure on development and production time lines.”

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