US stock market falls, capping the worst week since financial crisis

Trader Fred De Marco works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday Feb. 28 2020. Global stock markets are falling further on spreading virus fears

The Washington Post reports some investors have been calling for the US government to intervene.

Going back to 1929, the average bull market has taken an average of 21 months to complete and brought with it a loss of almost 40% for the S&P 500, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Microsoft shares fell more than 3%, while Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet and Apple all traded lower amid coronavirus related fears for some of the US' biggest firms.

The rout has knocked every major index into what market watchers call a "correction", or a fall of 10 per cent or more from a peak. For the S&P 500, it's promising to be the worst week since February 2009.

In a sharp shift from earlier in the year, when confidence in highflying technology companies and corporate earnings results helped push major US indexes to new heights, shares of tech companies within the S&P 500 were punished as major indexes tumbled from records at a breathtaking pace.

Medical experts can't say how far the virus will spread and what its ultimate toll will be.

"This unfortunately is the ideal storm", said Doug Cohen, managing director at Athena Capital Advisors.


Mr. Cohen said some of his clients have been anxious that the worst isn't yet over for stocks and they want to sell out of their equity positions or hedge portfolios to avoid even deeper losses.

"Market feels panic now.nobody knows how bad or how good the situation will get", said Zhiwei Ren, a portfolio manager at Penn Mutual Asset Management. German 10-year bunds yielded minus 0.592%, down from minus 0.540% Thursday.

Among individual stocks, Mylan NV dropped 6% after the drugmaker cautioned a financial hit from the coronavirus outbreak and warned of drug shortages in case of continued spread of the virus.

China's National Health Commission reported overnight that total confirmed cases of the virus had hit 75,465 on the mainland, leading to a total of 2,236 deaths. Goldman Sachs Group said it is expecting 0% corporate earnings growth in 2020. The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, jumped to 47.44 early Friday, the highest level since at least October 2011. Investors came into 2020 feeling confident that the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates at low levels and the US-China trade war posed less of a threat to company profits after the two sides reached a preliminary agreement in January. The S&P 500 returned 31.5% in 2019, including dividends. Investors kept betting that the market darlings would continue rising. Governments are taking increasingly drastic measures as they scramble to contain the virus. Shares of Royal Caribbean Cruises rose 4.4%, while Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings gained 7.3%. Strategist David Kostin also cut his growth forecast for earnings next year. USA crude oil prices logged their worst week since the financial crisis.

The Federal Reserve halted its rate increases and cut rates three times previous year, the first such cuts in more than a decade.

In an attempt to calm the markets, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday signaled that the central bank is ready to cut interest rates - possible at its upcoming March meeting - if the outbreak worsens.

"I personally can't see why cheap money will stop this rout because this is the type of uncertainty that isn't economic".

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