Markets

Dow jumps more than 250 points to a record

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Record close for stocks despite coronavirus scare

Stocks rose to all-time highs on Wednesday as investors shook off concerns over how the coronavirus would impact corporate profits and the global economy. (Click here to get the latest news on the market).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 275.08 points higher, or 0.9%, at 29,551.42. The S&P 500 advanced 0.6% to 3,379.45 while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.8% to end the day at 9,725.96.

UnitedHealth climbed more than 4% to lead the Dow higher. Nike, Apple and Caterpillar all rose more than 2%. Tech and energy were the best-performing sectors in the S&P 500, climbing more than 1% each.

As of Tuesday night, China's National Health Commission had reported 97 additional deaths with total confirmed cases passing 44,000. However, the pace of new reported cases appears to be slowing down as they hit their lowest levels since late January. Chinese lawmakers have also taken steps to curb a possible economic downturn from the coronavirus.

"Investors showed resilience by pushing stocks back to all-time highs, especially in the US, anticipating a strong V-shaped recovery when this is over," Eylem Senyuz, global macro strategist at SunTrust Advisory, said in a note. But "as the coronavirus continues to spread across China and the globe, much of its impact remains unknown."

Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands, two stocks tied to coronavirus worries because of their exposure to the Chinese market, each rose more than 3%. Those gains follow an upgrade from a Bank of America analyst who recommended buying the stock because coronavirus cases were "leveling out."

Delta and American Airlines climbed 1.4% and 2.1%, respectively.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Tuesday testified in front of the House Financial Services Committee that the American economy is in a good place, but that the central bank is "closely monitoring" the potential global economic fallout from the virus.

Powell testified again in front of the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, noting the central bank should have an idea of the coronavirus' impact on the U.S. economy "fairly soon."

Corporate earnings remained in focus after Lyft reported more than $1 billion in quarterly revenue, but forecast slower growth in 2020. Lyft shares slid 10.2%.

CVS Health, Molson Coors, Teva Pharmaceutical and Shopify all reported quarterly results that beat analyst expectations. About 70% of S&P 500 companies have posted calendar fourth-quarter results. Of those companies, 71.1% have beaten analyst expectations, FactSet data shows.

"We have been saying that future stock gains would require P/E multiple expansion," said Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout. "That is exactly what is happening."

"Taking into account the Fed's accommodative policies and the elevated valuation levels for the S&P 500, we want you to participate in the stock rally. However, we do not want you to be greedy," he added.

—CNBC's Elliot Smith contributed to this report.