Technology shares led the S&P 500 marginally higher on Wednesday, as a healthy forecast from IBM helped mitigate worries over the developing coronavirus outbreak. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed barely in the black after approaching, then backing down from record highs the day after virus fears prompted a sell-off. The Dow closed nominally lower.

Optimism was boosted by International Business Machines , which posted surprise quarterly revenue growth and forecast higher-than-expected full-year profit. Its shares advanced 3.4 per cent. Chipmakers rose following a strong forecast from Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML Holding NV. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index gained 0.8 per cent.

Global precautions have been put in place to curb a viral outbreak from China, which has now claimed 17 lives. The World Health Organization has convened to determine whether the situation was a global health emergency. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.63 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 29,186.41, the S&P 500 gained 0.98 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 3,321.77 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12.96 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 9,383.77.


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