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US and Global Stocks Fall Sharply      02/24 13:30

   The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped more than 1,000 points Monday amid 
a broad global markets sell-off as a surge in virus cases and a worrisome 
spread of the disease outside China sent investors running for safety.

   (AP) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped more than 1,000 points 
Monday amid a broad global markets sell-off as a surge in virus cases and a 
worrisome spread of the disease outside China sent investors running for safety.

   The losses wiped out all of the gains for the year of the Dow and the 
benchmark S&P 500, which was on track for its worst day in more than two years.

   More than 79,000 people worldwide have been infected by the new coronavirus. 
China, where the virus originated, still has the majority of cases and deaths. 
The rapid spread to other countries is raising anxiety about the threat the 
outbreak poses to the global economy.

   South Korea is now on its highest alert for infectious diseases after cases 
there spiked. Italy reported a sharp rise in cases and a dozen towns in the 
northern, more industrial part of that country are under quarantine. The nation 
now has the biggest outbreak in Europe, prompting officials to cancel Venice's 
famed Carnival, along with soccer matches and other public gatherings.

   There are also more cases of the virus being reported in the Middle East as 
it spreads to Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait, among others.

   The Dow fell 1,042 points, or 3.6%, to 27,950 as of 1:25 p.m. Eastern time. 
The S&P 500 index skidded 119 points, or 3.6%, to 3,218. The Nasdaq dropped 382 
points, or 4%, to 9,193.

   Germany's DAX slid 4% and Italy's benchmark index dropped 5.4%. South 
Korea's Kospi shed 3.9% and markets in Asia fell broadly.

   Investors looking for safe harbors bid up prices for U.S. government bonds 
and gold. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell sharply, to 1.35% from 
1.47% late Friday. Gold prices jumped 1.6%.

   "Stock markets around the world are beginning to price in what bond markets 
have been telling us for weeks -- that global growth is likely to be impacted 
in a meaningful way due to fears of the coronavirus," said Chris Zaccarelli, 
chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.

   The viral outbreak threatens to crimp global economic growth and hurt 
profits and revenue for a wide range of businesses. Companies from technology 
giant Apple to athletic gear maker Nike have already warned about a hit to 
their bottom lines. Airlines and other companies that depend on travelers are 
facing pain from cancelled plans and shuttered locations.

   Crude oil prices plunged 5%. Aside from air travel, the virus poses an 
economic threat to global shipping.

   Technology companies were among the worst hit by the sell-off. Apple, which 
depends on China for a lot of business, slid 4.4%. Microsoft slumped 4.3%. 
Banks were also big losers. JPMorgan Chase fell 3.1% and Bank of America fell 
5.1%.

   Airlines and cruise ship operators also slumped. American Airlines slid 10%, 
Delta Air Lines dropped 7.7%, Carnival skidded 8.7% and Royal Caribbean Cruises 
gave up 8.2%.

   Utilities and real estate companies held up better than most sectors. 
Investors tend to favor those industries, which carry high dividends and hold 
up relatively well during periods of turmoil, when they're feeling fearful.

   Gilead Sciences rose 2.8% and was among the few bright spots. The 
biotechnology company is testing a potential drug to treat the new coronavirus. 
Bleach-maker Clorox was also a standout, rising 1.4%.

   The sell-off is hitting the market as companies near the finish of what has 
been a surprisingly good round of earnings. About 87% of companies in the S&P 
500 have reported financial results and profits are expected to grow by more 
than a half-percentage point when all the reports are in, according to FactSet.

   In the eyes of some analysts, Monday's tank job for stocks means they're 
just catching up to the bond market, where fear has been dominant for months.

   U.S. government bonds are seen as some of the safest possible investments, 
and investors have been piling into them throughout 2020, even as stocks 
overcame stumbles to set more record highs. A bond's yield falls when its price 
rises, and the 10-year Treasury has been in such demand that its yield has 
plunged to 1.35% from roughly 1.90% at the start of the year.

   The 10-year yield on Monday touched its lowest point in three years, falling 
from 1.47% late Friday, and itwas near its intraday record low of 1.325% set in 
July 2016, according to Tradeweb. The 30-year Treasury yield fell further after 
setting its own record low, down to 1.82% from 1.92% late Friday.

   Traders are increasingly certain that the Federal Reserve will cut interest 
rates at least once in 2020 to help prop up the economy. They're pricing in a 
nearly 95% probability of a cut this year, according to CME Group. A month ago, 
they saw only a 68% probability.

   Of course, some analysts say stocks have been rising in recent weeks 
precisely because of the drop in yields. Bonds are offering less in interest 
after the Federal Reserve lowered rates three times last year --- the first 
such cuts in more than a decade --- and amid low inflation. When bonds are 
paying such meager amounts, many investors say there's little real competition 
other than stocks for their money.

   The view has become so hardened that "There Is No Alternative," or TINA, has 
become a popular acronym on Wall Street. Even with Monday's sharp drops, the 
S&P 500 is still within 4.2% of its record set earlier this month.


(CZ)

 
 
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