Wall St tumbles, Dow below 20,000 amid COVID-19 fears

Source : IANS
Author : IANS
Last Updated: Thu, Mar 19th, 2020, 11:00:02hrs
Wall St tumbles, Dow below 20,000 amid COVID-19 fears

New York:  US equities ended volatile session sharply lower as panic selling continued on Wall Street amid COVID-19 fears.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday decreased 1,338.46 points, or 6.30 per cent, to 19,898.92, marking its first close below 20,000 since February 2017. The 30-stock index cratered more than 2,300 points at session lows, Xinhua reported.

The S&P 500 was down 131.09 points, or 5.18 per cent, to end at 2,398.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 344.94 points, or 4.70 per cent, to 6,989.84.

Shares of US energy giant Chevron slumped about 22 per cent, leading the laggards in the Dow. Boeing declined 17.9 per cent, dragging the market lower.

All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended lower, with energy down 14.28 per cent, representing the worst-performing group.

The S&P 500 tumbled 7 per cent in the early afternoon, triggering a key circuit breaker that halted trading for 15 minutes. It was the second time this week that the circuit breaker has been tipped and the fourth time since last week.

Wednesday's slide came despite Washington's massive stimulus plan to counter the virus impact.

The White House is seeking a stimulus package worth as much as $1.2 trillion in spending, including direct payments to Americans, to cushion the US economy from coronavirus fallout, local media reported Tuesday.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pitched $250 billion in checks to be sent at the end of April with a second set of checks totaling $500 billion four weeks later if there is still a national emergency, Bloomberg quoted people familiar with the matter as saying.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday the US economy "may be" heading toward a recession and that the COVID-19 outbreak could last for months.

The US Federal Reserve on Sunday cut its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to near zero and pledged to boost its bond holdings by at least $700 billion amid mounting fears over the COVID-19 outbreak.