US stocks sink as virus fears persist

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/3/21 7:30:56

Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, the United States, on March 12, 2020. (Xinhua)

U.S. equities ended lower in wild trading on Friday as fears of economic slowdown driven by the coronavirus outbreak continued to grip investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 913.21 points, or 4.55 percent, to 19,173.98. The S&P 500 fell 104.47 points, or 4.34 percent, to 2,304.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 271.06 points, or 3.79 percent, to 6,879.52.

The major averages surrendered earlier gains amid steep sell-off during the final hour of the session. The 30-stock index had rallied more than 400 points earlier in the day.

Ten of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors closed lower, with utilities down 8.18 percent, becoming the worst-performing group. Energy rose 0.96 percent, the only gainer.

Wall Street has taken on high volatility these days as investors grew concerned over a possible economic recession driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The biggest change in what we know about the economic challenge posed by COVID-19 is the damage is not likely to pass in a month or two," analysts at FHN Financial said in a note on Friday.

"Increasingly, it appears there will be a sharp drop in global activity, followed by a period of significant weakness lasting at least two quarters, followed by a partial recovery," they noted.

Governments and central banks have been stepping up efforts to cushion the damage.

"Uncertainty remains over whether current announced measures will prove sufficient or whether additional stimulus will be required," said UBS Global Wealth Management's Chief Investment Officer Mark Haefele, adding further signs of virus containment are key to a more sustained rally in risky assets.


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