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Wall Street falls more slowly as investors parse coronavirus fears

Stock MarketsFeb 26, 2020 04:58PM ET
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© Reuters. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York

By Sinéad Carew

New York (Reuters) - The S&P 500 fell for a fifth straight day on Wednesday and while its decline was slower than the last few days, the session was volatile as investors reacted to headlines about coronavirus and sought to gauge its economic fallout.

After rising as much as 1.7% in the morning, the S&P 500 hit a session low after health officials in Nassau County, New York, said they were monitoring 83 people who visited China and may have come in contact with the virus. Still, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state has had no confirmed cases. {nL2N2AQ192]

Adding to pressure was a warning from U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials that the outbreak was on a path to becoming a pandemic, according to a report.

Earlier, stocks lost ground after Germany said it was heading for a coronavirus epidemic and could no longer trace all cases, and Norway confirmed its first case of the virus. For the first time, the number of new infections outside China overtook those inside the country, the source of the outbreak.

Trading volume was far more active than usual, yet some investors were relieved the slide was slower. The S&P ended down 0.38%, compared with its 6.3% of losses in the previous two sessions.

"The market's default reaction function is when in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. That's what we've seen in the past couple of days," said Brad McMillan, Chief Investment Officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, an independent broker-dealer in Waltham, Mass.

"The real story today was that it stopped going down fast ... news came in and the market thought about it and acted appropriately by selling off a little but not too much," said McMillan who estimates that equity investors have priced in two quarters of global economic fallout from the virus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 123.77 points, or 0.46%, to 26,957.59, the S&P 500 dropped 11.82 points to 3,116.39 and the Nasdaq Composite added 15.16 points, or 0.17%, to end at 8,980.78.

Of the S&P's 11 major sectors energy was the biggest laggard with an almost 3% drop, while technology was its outperformer with a 0.4% gain.

Many investors were cautious about making any big bets without more clarity on the spread of the virus.

"We need to more information before markets have a further correction or get comfortable things won't escalate further," said Jason Draho, head of Americas asset allocation at UBS Global Wealth Management, New York.

"Markets will be very jumpy until there's increasing confidence the virus is abating and that it won't be a global pandemic," Draho said.

President Donald Trump, scheduled to hold a news conference on the coronavirus at 630 P.M. ET (2330 GMT), accused cable TV news channels of presenting the danger from the coronavirus in as bad a light as possible and upsetting financial markets.

The Dow ended the day 8.8% below its recent record close, reached Feb. 12 while the S&P 500 was just under 8% off its record high reached last Wednesday. Nasdaq finished 8.5% below its recent record.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.94-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.73-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 4 new 52-week highs and 50 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 23 new highs and 237 new lows.

On U.S. exchanges 11.86 billion shares changed hands, below Tuesday's 12.33 billion, but well above the 8.23 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

Wall Street falls more slowly as investors parse coronavirus fears
 

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Comments (28)
Azam Khan
Azam Khan Feb 27, 2020 12:14AM ET
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Strange China was moving market up from 3 days even europe is ok but Americans are shedding their makret themselves
Abhishek Mall
Abhishek Mall Feb 26, 2020 8:21PM ET
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I have never seen such type of fraud news providing website. Last night they were showing news related to Trump press conference over CORONA, now they have removed it.
Tony Low
Tony Low Feb 26, 2020 5:52PM ET
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This is a time when you can play like Warren Buffett. What? You didn't? Oh well....
Jack Zhang
Jack_A Feb 26, 2020 4:21PM ET
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The real reason for downside is that the bubble is too big and was inflated too much since 2018.
Ben Dover
Ben Dover Feb 26, 2020 4:18PM ET
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Trump need to start looking for a new job.
Philippe Ball
Philippe Ball Feb 26, 2020 4:14PM ET
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You do not resort to draconic measures and instate lockdowns on entire cities and business organizations for a “common flu”.
Christos Rammos
Christos Rammos Feb 26, 2020 4:11PM ET
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No worries just like common flu manipulation to the downside.
James Westmore
James Westmore Feb 26, 2020 3:56PM ET
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https://whatkillsit.com/virus/what-kills-coronavirus/#Coronavirus%20Disinfectants_writeup
Maks Mars
Maks Mars Feb 26, 2020 3:39PM ET
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Time to pop the big bubble lol
Mary Kinney
Mary Kinney Feb 26, 2020 3:39PM ET
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seen beyond meat for the first time in the grocery store...nice try looks like a pile of mush no thanks Hats off veggie lovers
Azam Khan
Azam Khan Feb 26, 2020 3:37PM ET
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Its a big shame nasdaq future have been pumped up by chinese and europe and Americans are not even capable of pumping there market big sham
Behar Bell
BaiBell Feb 26, 2020 3:37PM ET
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market is pumped fot 3 yrs know it is time to ********it .... wait it is just a start
Humayun Babar
Humayun Babar Feb 26, 2020 3:37PM ET
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whats the reason of pumping it up for 3 years if they have to do this in one week
Sun Moon
Sun Moon Feb 26, 2020 3:31PM ET
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It's the CDC that supposedly has been preparing for decades - with $10s of BB of dollars - for this kind of event.  They have been saying "Everything under control, steady as she goes, no need for travel ban, no need for masks." Yesterday (2/25) head of HHS and Deputy Director of CDC gave press conference, message was "everything under control, no big problem." Then, within hours, Dr. Nancy Rosenstein, head of CDC, pushes the ALARM BUTTON and sends market tanking. Why the diametrically opposite messages from a) Dr. Nancy, and b) her Deputy Director?   Whatever happens with this going forward IS ALL ON THE CDC.
Ben Dover
Ben Dover Feb 26, 2020 3:28PM ET
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Market can’t even stay green. Trump better start looking for a new job.
John Niemokta
John Niemokta Feb 26, 2020 3:28PM ET
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Lame comment
Mary Kinney
Mary Kinney Feb 26, 2020 3:28PM ET
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he can sweep jail house floors for 2 dollars a day
Chazlin Naidoo
Chazlin Naidoo Feb 26, 2020 3:24PM ET
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News just popped up. Close to 50 people infected with the virus in New York County. I sense trouble, sell while you can. Those 50 already affected hundreds more before they were detected who knows coz that's how the flu spreads. Don't be fooled good people...So now we see why governments world wide should look after the poor people. Maybe because of poverty some people in Hubei, China probabably ate something contagious and deadly, now the virus spread and is infecting not only the rich or the poor but everyone else worldwide. This thing of the rich is getting richer just reached its peak. Like I said before, "The poor rocks the world" so W.H.O. better take them seriously.
Chazlin Naidoo
Chazlin Naidoo Feb 26, 2020 2:47PM ET
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The virus has creeped all way to the US and neighbouring countries, isn't that scary stuff? If you throw a rotten tomato in a box full of good tomatoes. Do you think the good tomatoes will change the rotten tomato or will the rotten tomato instead affect the good tomatoes. You be the judge. I think it's time to sell stocks and do Forex, greed will dissappoint you. And Trump says the media is just over reacting and everything is under control. Trump is business minded but his pushing his luck too far and under estimating this *****virus. Should chaos arise in the coming days, Trump will lose votes I bet. Remember on 15 January 2015 when the Swiss Bank removed the pegg and what happened, be careful good people rather than being sorry. Take calculated risks. We are talking about human lives, investments etc. in 50 States and not about some small island in the Pacific ocean. Sound the Trumpet and get hold of masks in the meantime, the enemy is closing in....
Jason Patcher
Jason Patcher Feb 26, 2020 2:40PM ET
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/high five for all the bears out there.
Ben Dover
Ben Dover Feb 26, 2020 1:43PM ET
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Trump better call his buddies, the market is losing him votes again.
Chris Martin
Chris Martin Feb 26, 2020 1:43PM ET
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Sounds like you must be in your position..
First Last
First Last Feb 26, 2020 12:36PM ET
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Even Before the virus stock market could not reach 30k. Is it worth risking my money for a one in a million chance the dow will hit 30k by the end of the year? No freaking way. If you dont sell here you are blinded by greed.
Mr Anderson
Mr Anderson Feb 26, 2020 12:27PM ET
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Many people enter to investments that are afraid of everything and run to sell everything like chickens with a meaningless treat. They should stay at home and sell Avon instead than buy stocks.
Chris Martin
Chris Martin Feb 26, 2020 12:27PM ET
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Hmmm...I did that in 2000 with 250k on Enron, Global Crossing, Worldcom. CMGI, Xerox and a few others with such a philosophy. Sometimes they don't come back Mr. A.
Tony Donatelli
Tony Donatelli Feb 26, 2020 12:23PM ET
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Dead cat bounce <--- lol 🙄
Ben Dover
Ben Dover Feb 26, 2020 12:18PM ET
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What bounce?
Abeyek Dunblex
Abeyek Dunblex Feb 26, 2020 11:53AM ET
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They’re still red, this is just a short time buy back for another selling pressure
I2 K4
I2 K4 Feb 26, 2020 11:51AM ET
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News is a whole hotel in Spain is now into 14 day lockdown, guests incarcerated. It ain't over til it's over.
Jimmy Coyne
Jimmy Coyne Feb 26, 2020 9:52AM ET
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The Dow selling off 2,500 points in less than a week is an eerie foreshadowing for the exponential destruction this Fund, Fed, and Leverage bubble will cause.
Andrew carson
Andrew carson Feb 26, 2020 9:45AM ET
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Why? Nothing has changed even the weather.
 
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