Stocks Plunge as Coronavirus Toll Becomes Clearer, Smaller Stocks Crushed

AP Photo/Richard Drew

Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday as investors came to grips with the idea that the shutdowns will last longer and the economic toll be steeper than many had hoped.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 973.65 points, or 4.4 percent, to 20943.51. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell by 4.41 percent. The Russell 2000, made up of smaller companies, fell 7 percent, reflecting how tough the coronavirus contraction will be on small and mid-sized businesses.

Stock futures moved down on Tuesday night following President Donald Trump’s warning that the U.S. should prepare for a “very, very painful” two weeks. Florida on Wednesday announced a statewide “stay at home” order, once more highlighting how widespread the economic dislocation from the pandemic has become.

Walmart was the only Dow stock to rise for the day, eeking out a 0.46 percent gain. Boeing, American Express and Dow were the worst performers.

Target was the second-best performing S&P stock, rising 2.47. The best was gold miner Newmont Mining, rising 2.63 percent. Cruiseline operator Carnival shares fell by 33 percent, making it the worst performer in the S&P 500, followed by Royal Caribbean Cruises, down 19.89 percent, and United Airlines, which dropped 18.7 percent.

All 11 sectors of the S&P declined. The best sector was consumer staples, which fell just 1.83 percent. The worst were financials, real estate, and utilities, all down by more than 5 percent.



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