Coronavirus continues to drag down Wall Street; investors await stimulus package

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An unidentified man wears a facial mask early Wednesday morning, March 18, 2020 on Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange in the financial district area. A pair of positive coronavirus tests is forcing the New York Stock Exchange to temporarily close its historic trading floor and move fully to electronic trading.

An unidentified man wears a facial mask early Wednesday morning, March 18, 2020 on Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange in the financial district area. A pair of positive coronavirus tests is forcing the New York Stock Exchange to temporarily close its historic trading floor and move fully to electronic trading. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/TNS)

As Americans began a new week of the coronavirus crisis, they were also greeted by more weakness on Wall Street as uncertainty over the economy dragged stocks into the red again.

Before the market opened, the Federal Reserve announced new extensive measures meant to support American businesses and calm the sentiment surrounding debt markets. Among the moves the Fed said it would soon launch will be a program to lend money directly to small-and-medium-sized businesses.

Investors likely continued to wonder about the state of their IRAs and 401(k) plans, as the shares of many Bay Area companies put in an overall mixed performance during the latest coronavirus-related broad market decline.

In early trading, Apple shares fell 3.2%, to $222.09, HP was down by 1.4%, at $13.75 a share, and Cisco Systems shares gave up 1.4%, to dip to $35.09. Facebook was off slightly, at $149.55 a share.

However, Tesla rose 1%, to $429.63. Tesla said last week it would suspend vehicle production at its Fremont plant at the end of the day, Monday, as part of the ongoing shelter in place effort going on across California.

Netflix was having a good day, as its shares rose almost 8%, to $358.86. Analysts as Baird raised their rating on Netflix’s stock to outperform from neutral on the grounds that Netflix is likely to benefit from new subscriber growth a people remain indoors in the effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

But, on the whole, investors continued with their selling ways, and drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average down by 500 points, or 2.6%, to 18,677.30, and trimmed the S&P 500 by 2.6%, to 2,246.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index was off by 0.4%, at 6,853.33.

Many appeared to be waiting for Congress to approve an economic stimulus package before wading back into the stock market. Treasury secretary Stephen Mnuchin said on CNBC Monday that a deal was close to getting done.

But, despite governmental efforts to prop up the economy, some investment professionals said they don’t believe those methods will put the brakes on the stock market’s recent slide.

“Unfortunately I don’t think the market is anywhere near done with its purge of all the speculative excess which led up to this point,” said Jeffrey Sica, Chief Executive of Circle Squared Alternative Investments. “My opinion is that the market has another 20% more to decline before I start pecking away at the market.”

Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com


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