If they haven’t already, investors now need to brace for their portfolio to be shell-shocked at the hands of the coronavirus.
A somewhat nervous-looking President Trump delivered shock and awe Wednesday night in a prime-time speech on action to combat the spreading virus. Trump announced a 30-day travel ban on Europe, which is sure to cause major disruption to Corporate America and consumers. The president also teased several financial relief efforts for those hurt by the coronavirus, including low interest loans for small businesses and a payroll tax cut.
The market couldn’t care less about the positive, locking in on a stumbling president and the aftershock of a European travel ban. Dow Jones Industrial futures crashed more than 1,100 points at 10:00 p.m. ET, after being down 300 points or so before Trump’s speech.
To top it all off, the NBA said it would suspend its season after a member of the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tweeted they have tested positive for coronavirus in Australia. Twitter announced all its employees will be working from home. And CME Group said it would close its landmark trading floor in Chicago on Friday.
A shocking turn of events here for a market in turmoil.
But let’s hit on this now bear market as Wednesday was a very serious one in the grand scheme of this major pullback.
First up, the session itself stunk.
The Dow faded into the close. It finished down 1,464 points and in a bear market, or down 20%-plus from its Feb. 19 high. The S&P 500 dropped 5%, 1% away from hitting a bear market.
These are not the closes you want to see one week removed from an emergency rate cut from the Fed and the Bank of England throwing the stimulus book to fight coronavirus today.
Next, the bad news is piling up from Corporate America
There is nowhere to hide right now in the markets for a reason — Corporate America is under siege from bad news. Occidental Petroleum cutting its dividend for the first time in 30 years this week is huge. America Airlines and Delta Air Lines slashed capacity. Big-time oil executives at a Goldman Sachs conference in Houston said they are cutting capital expenditure budgets by 50% due to the plunge in oil prices in part fueled by the coronavirus.
A broken market
It’s getting ugly out there people. I was on a Zoom call last night (originally it was supposed to be an in-person dinner, but it was changed because of the coronavirus) with former Cisco CEO John Chambers. He told me people are underestimating how long businesses will be hurt by coronavirus — don’t think two to four quarters, think five or more.
I am listening to John Chambers here based on what is unfolding.
And lastly, this is a broken market becoming even more broken.
My Yahoo Finance colleague Jared Blikre tells me the Russell 2000, Philadelphia Semiconductor Index and the Financial Sector SPDR are now in bear markets after Wednesday’s session.
Meanwhile, stocks that have been clobbered since mid-February continued to be ripped to shreds. Think Carnival Cruise Lines and MGM. But also, long-time safe-havens like Pfizer got drilled on Wednesday.
All of this is ugly. And it will stay ugly until we get the Trump administration and Federal Resrve working together to fight the coronavirus outbreak. More coronavirus tests would help greatly, too.
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