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Capitalism has a way to extract winners and losers out of any catastrophe.
The coronavirus epidemic has strongly impacted Wall Street, which recently experienced its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Still, it hasn't been bad news for all stocks, with the shares of several companies offering services to people who don't want to - or are afraid to - leave their homes rising in price and making profits, firms ranging from Zoom to Netflix.
Emerging as a countercurrent to the recent sharp downdraft in stock prices have been firms that facilitate telecommuting, including Zoom Video Communications, which specializes in videoconferences and the shares of which have shot up in price by 69 percent since the start of the year, and Slack Technologies, an internal messaging system that has moved up 20 percent during the same period.
Also benefitting from the coronavirus scare are companies offering home entertainment, including the Netflix streaming platform, shares of which have risen by almost 16 percent this year; Zynga, which develops games that can be played on cellphones, up 15 percent; Twitter, up 9 percent and e-commerce giant Amazon, up almost 5 percent.
So far this year, the leading market indicator on Wall Street - the Dow Jones Industrial Average - has lost more than 7 percent of its value. In comparison, the S&P500 index has retreated more than 5 percent and the NASDAQ composite index of big tech firms by almost 2 percent, although all three were down even more last week before the latest rally.
Among the firms hardest hit by the spread of the coronavirus are those linked to travel such as the airlines - with American Airlines experiencing accumulated losses of almost 40 percent in its stock price - and others heavily dependent on China for their supply chains or sales, including Microsoft and Apple, which have announced that they will not reach their prior earnings forecasts for this quarter.
Although not specializing in providing products or services such as entertainment for those who are homebound, but still useful in helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus, another firm whose shares have risen in value recently is Clorox, which makes disinfectant products and has climbed by 11 percent in recent weeks.
As of Tuesday, some 93,000 people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus in more than 75 countries around the world, with more than 3,100 have died, the vast majority of them in China, although 138 people have been infected in the US and nine, has died.