Wall Street plunged into the red in early trading Monday as a spike in the number of Covid-19 virus cases confirmed outside of China pushed money out of riskier investments.
The Dow dove 905.27 points, or 3.12%, to 28,087.04 at 9:35 AM ET (14:35 GMT) and the S&P 500 fell 93.63, or 2.8%, to 3,245.62. The Nasdaq Composite plunged 341.72, or 3.6%, 9,234.87, with tech stocks particularly hard hit.
The U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted the most since October and the 10-Year yield fell below 1.37%. Its all-time low is 1.32% hit in 2016 after the Brexit vote.
Worries snowballed over the weekend as the numbers of cases of Covid-19 jumped in Italy, South Korea and Iran. Authorities in Italy imposed a quarantine in the north of the country and its benchmark MIB index tumbled nearly 6%.
The Covid-19 shock is a test of the fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) and buy-the-dip conditioning that has helped stocks overcome the headwinds of valuations, Allianz (DE:ALVG) Chief Economic Adviser Mohamed El-Erian tweeted.
“A key element is whether markets distinguish between Central Banks’ willingness (high) and ability (low) to counter the economic shock,” he said.
Among individual stocks, Dow component Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) sank 6% after the latest data showed shipments of mobile phones in China dove 36.6% in January from the year-ago period.
High-flying Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), which has a factory in Shanghai, was also hit on virus worries, with shares dropping 8.6%.
Chip stocks were also hard hit. Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) lost 10.2%, Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) tumbled 8.4% and Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) slumped 7.4%.
“Growing consensus among economist(s) I am speaking to at (the National Association for Business Economics 2020 conference) is that the Fed will have to cut and do so soon – March – in response to COVID-19,” Grant Thornton Chief Economist Diane Swonk tweeted. “It may not be called a health pandemic yet but it is an economic pandemic.”
Growing consensus among economist I am speaking to at #nabe2020 is that the Fed will have to cut and do so soon – March – in response to COVID-19. It may not be called a health pandemic yet but it is an ecomomc pandemic.
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