Wall Street hammered by coronavirus anxiety; briefly confirms correction

February 27, 2020

New York (Feb 27)  Wall Street’s main indexes tumbled nearly 2% on Thursday and confirmed a correction that began last week, as the rapid spread of the coronavirus outside China intensified fears about the hit to economic growth and corporate earnings.

At session lows, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down more than 10% from their intraday record highs hit on Feb. 19, while the Dow Jones Industrials was 10% off its Feb. 12 peak.

The indexes were set for their steepest weekly pullback since the global financial crisis, as new infections reported around the world surpassed those in mainland China. Governments battling the epidemics from Iran to Australia shut schools, canceled big events and stocked up on medical supplies.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an infection in California in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient.

“It’s not a China thing, it’s becoming more global ... in terms of the spread of the virus and its economic impact,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now about where that impact lands ... it’s also possible that forecasts are over-reacting to the downside.”

Industry analysts and economists continued to sound the alarm as they assessed the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, with Goldman Sachs saying U.S. firms will generate no earnings growth in 2020.

Bank of America slashed its global growth forecast to the lowest since the peak of the financial crisis.

At 11:17 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 465.60 points, or 1.73%, at 26,491.99, the S&P 500 was down 52.86 points, or 1.70%, at 3,063.53. The Nasdaq Composite was down 171.51 points, or 1.91%, at 8,809.26. All of the 11 S&P sectors were deep in the red with technology losing about 2.9% while financials, consumer discretionary, energy and real estate sectors dropped more than 2% each.

The NYSE Arca Airline index slumped 4.7% on fears about travel disruptions beyond China while the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index, comprised of China-exposed stocks, tumbled 2.3%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 6.31-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 5.20-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded four new 52-week highs and 97 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 20 new highs and 428 new lows.


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