Stocks fight to protect Trump-era gains

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Haverford Trust Company Co-CIO Hank Smith discusses how the markets and U.S. economy will react throughout the lifespan of coronavirus.

U.S. equity markets battled back from steep losses early Thursday and were figthing to hold onto their miniscule gains from the Trump era.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by as many as 721 points, or 3.6 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite slid 3.3 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. If the Dow is down at least 166.52 points at the close of trading, that would erase the entirety of the gains achieved since President Trump was sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2017.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES19766.45-132.47-0.67%
SP500S&P 5002390.43-7.67-0.32%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX7086.755254+96.91+1.39%

Thursday' action comes after President Trump signed a second coronavirus measure into law on Wednesday evening, which provides paid sick leave, unemployment help and free testing to Americans.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sickened 9,415 people in the U.S. and killed 150, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

The impact of “shelter in place” orders, social distancing between people, the cancellation of non-essential travel and the closure of many restaurants and bars has started to show up in the economic data.

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The Department of Labor reported on Thursday morning that the number of weekly jobless claims jumped by 281,000 in the week ended March 14, exceeding the increase of 220,000 that economists surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting.

Looking at stocks, travel-related names, which have been in the eye of this financial storm, were mostly lower.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.11.26-0.39-3.37%
RCLROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES22.03-0.30-1.34%
HHYATT HOTELS33.52-3.04-8.33%
BKNGBOOKING HOLDINGS INC.1,201.76-31.99-2.59%

Beaten-down energy companies saw some reprieve as West Texas Intermediate crude oil spiked 10.8 percent to $23.07 a barrel. Crude plunged by more than 24 percent on Wednesday, touching a low near $20.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
XOMEXXON MOBIL CORPORATION33.27+0.15+0.45%
CVXCHEVRON CORP.54.34-0.71-1.29%
CLRCONTINENTAL RESOURCES8.75+0.87+11.04%

Money poured back into the U.S. Treasury market, flattening the yield curve and weighing on bank shares. The benchmark 10-year yield was down 5.5 basis points at 1.13 percent.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
JPMJP MORGAN CHASE & CO.81.72-2.17-2.59%
BACBANK OF AMERICA CORP.20.02-0.78-3.73%
WFCWELLS FARGO & COMPANY26.95-1.17-4.16%

In manufacturing, Harley-Davidson suspended production at its U.S. plants while General Motors and Ford are looking into the possibility of making medical equipment at their plants.

Elsewhere, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced the closure of its stores for two weeks amid declining traffic due to COVID-19.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
HOGHARLEY DAVIDSON18.40-1.76-8.73%
GMGENERAL MOTORS COMPANY16.59-0.21-1.25%
FFORD MOTOR COMPANY4.29-0.21-4.75%
DKSDICKS SPORTING16.49-0.07-0.41%

In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 1.7 percent and France’s CAC slid 1.2 percent after the European Central Bank launched a 750 billion-euro ($805 billion) asset purchase plan. Britain’s FTSE was weaker by 2.1 percent.

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Asian markets ended lower, with South Korea’s Kospi plunging 8.4 percent after the government said it was preparing for a possible credit crunch. Elsewhere Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 2.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei both lost 1 percent.

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