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Feb 25, 2020

Dow, S&P 500 tumble after CDC issues fresh virus warning

Amid market selloff, is now the time to buy?

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U.S. stocks tumbled to an almost 12-week low and bond yields plunged to records on rising concern the coronavirus will upend global supply chains critical to economic growth.

The S&P 500’s four-day rout reached 7.6 per cent, with losses accelerating Tuesday after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak at home. That follows a rapid increase in cases from Italy to Iran and Japan, with a growing list of companies warning that profits will suffer as economies around the world suffer. The S&P, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite indexes all set record highs this month.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield fell to a record low of 1.3055 per cent as investors sought shelter from the virus’s impact on the outlook for growth. All 11 sectors in the S&P 500 fell with energy, material and financial shares leading the declines. Volatility spiked, sending the Cboe’s measure of equity gyrations surging past 30 for the first time since 2018.

“The market is pricing in a significant slowdown in GDP and a 10 per cent impact on earnings,” said Zhiwei Ren, portfolio manager at Penn Mutual Asset Management. “And since no one knows how bad the infection will be, it is hard to make a bet on economy.”

U.S. central bankers are closely monitoring the spreading coronavirus, but it is “still too soon” to say whether it will result a material change to the outlook, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida said.

Elsewhere, European stocks closed in the red, while bonds from the region were mixed. Crude oil slumped again after Monday’s slide of nearly 4 per cent.

Japanese shares tumbled more than 3 per cent as traders returned after a holiday. Stocks fell in China and Australia and pushed higher in South Korea and Hong Kong. The yen strengthened against the dollar for a third day.

Erratic market moves suggest investors remain on edge over the economic impact of the virus. The World Health Organization has held off from declaring a global pandemic even as cases surged in South Korea, Italy and Japan.

“We know there will be supply disruptions, the question now is to what extent will it affect economic growth and more importantly for the stock market earnings growth,” said Sandip Bhagat, Whittier Trust Co.’s chief investment officer “The market is repricing to that new reality.”

Analysts at Oxford Economics Ltd. said the epidemic could wipe more than US$1 trillion from global domestic product, while the International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecasts for the world economy.

These are some key events coming up:

Earnings keep rolling in from companies including: Peugeot SA on Wednesday; Baidu Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Dell Technologies Inc. on Thursday; and London Stock Exchange Group Plc on Friday.
The Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina is on Tuesday.
The Bank of Korea announces its policy decision on Thursday, with rising risks of an interest-rate cut.
U.S. jobless claims, GDP and durable goods data are out Thursday.
Japan industrial production, jobs, and retail sales figures are due on Friday.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

The S&P 500 Index decreased 3.2 per cent to 3,128.43 as of 4:01 p.m. New York time, the lowest in more than 11 weeks on the largest dip in almost 15 months.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 3.3 per cent to 27,081.50, the lowest in four months.

The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 2.9 per cent to 8,965.61, the lowest in eight weeks on the largest drop in six months.

The MSCI All-Country World Index dipped 2.4 per cent to 542.98, the lowest in almost 12 weeks on the biggest decrease in almost seven months.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 1.8 per cent to 404.60, the lowest in more than 11 weeks.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased 0.2 per cent to 1,212.91.

The euro rose 0.2 per cent to US$1.0885, the strongest in almost two weeks.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.6 per cent to 110.10 per dollar.

The British pound gained 0.6 per cent to US$1.3003, the strongest in a week.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries sank five basis points to 1.33 per cent, the lowest on record.

The yield on 30-year Treasuries dipped four basis points to 1.80 per cent, the lowest on record.

Germany’s 10-year yield decreased three basis points to -0.51 per cent, the lowest in almost 20 weeks.

Britain’s 10-year yield fell two basis points to 0.519 per cent, hitting the lowest in three weeks with its sixth straight decline.

Commodities

Gold weakened 0.6 per cent to US$1,632.93 an ounce, the first retreat in more than a week and the biggest fall in almost three weeks.

Copper decreased 0.8 per cent to US$2.56 a pound, the lowest in two weeks.

West Texas Intermediate crude dipped 3.1 per cent to US$49.79 a barrel, the lowest in two weeks.

 

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