Stocks plunge amid fears coronavirus pandemic will worsen

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U.S. equity markets tumbled Wednesday, extending the pain from their worst first quarter in years, after President Trump warned the number of COVID-19 infections is set to surge.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 877 points, or 4 percent, in the opening minutes of trading while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite fell 3.7 percent and 3.08 percent, respectively.

The blue-chip Dow plummeted 23 percent during the first three months of the year, its worst quarter since 1987. The S&P 500 fell 20 percent and the Nasdaq Composite shed 14 percent, their worst quarterly performances since the fourth quarters of 2008 and 2018, respectively.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES21285.89-631.27-2.88%
SP500S&P 5002504.33-80.26-3.11%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX7501.998444-198.10-2.57%

Trump delivered a sobering COVID-19 assessment on Tuesday evening, warning the country is in for a “very painful two weeks” and that the number of deaths in America due to the virus could surge as high as 240,000.

So far, COVID-19 has infected 189,633 Americans and killed 4,081, according to the latest data provided by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than 7,000 Americans have recovered.

Looking at stocks, airlines were in focus after data showed passenger traffic was down 88 percent in two weeks.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
DALDELTA AIR LINES INC.25.29-3.24-11.36%

Xerox ended its $35 billion attempted hostile takeover of HP, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has created conditions that hinder continuing its pursuit of the company.

Macy’s was removed from the S&P 500 as its market capitalization fell to $1.5 billion, the smallest in the index. The stock will be placed in the S&P SmallCap 600 starting on April 6.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MMACY’S INC.4.60-0.31-6.25%
JPMJP MORGAN CHASE & CO.85.30-4.73-5.25%
BACBANK OF AMERICA CORP.20.19-1.04-4.92%
CCITIGROUP INC.39.74-2.38-5.65%
WFCWELLS FARGO & COMPANY26.84-1.86-6.50%

Banks stocks were pressured as U.S. Treasurys rallied sharply and the yield curve flattened. The yield on the 10-year note was down 9.1 basis points at 0.608 percent.

Commodities were mixed, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil for May delivery down 1.12 percent at $20.25 a barrel and gold for June delivery up 0.51 percent near $1,588 an ounce.

In Europe, markets were lower across the board, with France’s CAC down 4.17 percent, pacing the decline. Germany’s DAX and Britain’s FTSE were off 4 percent and 3.75 percent, respectively.


Asian markets fell as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 2.19 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite slid 0.57 percent. Japan’s Nikkei remained closed for a holiday.

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