January 28, 2020 / 8:02 PM / 2 months ago

US STOCKS-Apple leads Wall St rebound ahead of results

* 3M slips on downbeat 2020 profit forecast

* U.S. consumer confidence rises in January

* Dow up 0.96%, S&P 500 up 1.26%, Nasdaq up 1.58% (Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rebounded on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 bouncing back from its worst day in nearly four months, led by a climb in Apple and other names after concerns on the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China sparked a sell-off last week.

Markets across the world stabilized as the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said he was confident in China's ability to stem the virus outbreak, which has killed 106 people in the country, prompted businesses to close operations and curbed travel.

Still, the U.S. health secretary said new steps were being considered to counter the virus, including travel restrictions to China.

"Obviously, with the China coronavirus uncertainty will breed volatility in the market until there is some sort of endgame to where this thing will be under control," said Jeff Zipper, managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management in Florida.

Sectors that were hit hardest on Monday saw their fortunes reverse, with technology and financials among the best performers on the session.

Helping to dampen concerns about a hit from the virus to the economy was data that showed U.S. consumer confidence surged to a five-month high in January.

"The consumer confidence numbers this morning certainly helped because the consumer seems to be backstopping the market and the economy, in addition to what the Fed has been doing," said Zipper.

Apple Inc shares led each of the three major indexes higher, up 2.76% ahead of its fourth-quarter results expected after markets close.

Investors will keep a close watch on Apple's earnings amid concerns of a disruption in iPhone production as the coronavirus spreads across major markets such as China.

Apple's gains helped lift the S&P technology index 2.01%, while financial stocks gained 1.50% as a climb in Treasury yields helped big banks rebound.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 273.25 points, or 0.96%, to 28,809.05, the S&P 500 gained 40.94 points, or 1.26%, to 3,284.57 and the Nasdaq Composite added 144.50 points, or 1.58%, to 9,283.81.

Expectations for fourth-quarter earnings have been slowly improving and are now expected to show a decline of 0.4%, according to Refinitiv data. Of the 104 companies that have reported so far, 68.3% have topped expectations, lagging the average rate of 74% from the past four quarters.

Results were mixed on Tuesday, with U.S. industrial giant 3M Co sliding 5.29% after it forecast 2020 profit below expectations as weak demand from China dents overall growth.

Pfizer Inc dropped 4.99% after the drugmaker reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit and said it would no longer rely on share repurchases to help drive growth.

Shares in Xerox Holdings Corp jumped 5.89% after the company's profit beat analysts' estimates as it kept a tight lid on costs.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.49-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.25-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 24 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and 37 new lows. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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