Stocks fell sharply in volatile trading Thursday as investors worried the coronavirus may be spreading in the U.S. A slew of corporate and analyst warnings on the virus dragged down the major averages, tipping them into correction territory.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 1,190.95 points, or 4.4%, to close at 25,766.64. The S&P 500 slid 4.4% to 2,978.76 while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.6% to 8,566.48. The Dow had its worst day since February 2018 while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 posted its biggest one-day loss since August 2011.
It was also the Dow’s biggest one-day point decline in history, surpassing Monday’s 1,031-point drop. The S&P 500 also closed below 3,000 for the first time since last October.
“We’re extremely cautious in the short term,” said Tom Hainlin, global investment strategist at Ascent Private Capital Management. “No one really seems to be an expert on the coronavirus. We haven’t seen anything like this really in our investing lifetimes.”
Thursday’s losses put the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq in correction territory, which is defined on Wall Street as down more than 10% from their a recent high. It took the Dow just 10 sessions to tumble from its all-time high into a correction. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq set record highs last week. The Dow now sits more than 12% below its all-time high.
The Dow and S&P 500 were also on pace for their worst weekly performance since 2008. Through Thursday’s close, the Dow was down more than 11% week to date while the S&P 500 had lost 10.8%.
The CDC confirmed on Wednesday evening the first U.S. coronavirus case of unknown origin in Northern California, indicating possible “community spread” of the disease. The patient had no travel history or contacts that would have put the person at risk, the CDC said. On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is monitoring 8,400 people for coronavirus.
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SOURCE: CNBC, Fred Imbert