Dow Slips into Bear Market Territory on Coronavirus Concerns

We’ve been smelling it for weeks, but the bear market finally arrived today as the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) tumbled 5.86%, down over 20% from its recent highs, as the World Health Organization announced that the deadly coronavirus is a global pandemic. That didn’t necessarily cause the fall, but it’s the latest development in what has become a global health and economic crisis. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are on the brink of bear territory, as well.

This despite emergency efforts by central banks and governments around the world who have been lobbing fiscal and monetary life preservers to save their economies and markets. Today, the Bank of England cut its benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 0.25%. The Federal Reserve also increased the amount of money it is providing to banks through overnight repo lending to $175 billion. The ECB meets tomorrow on interest rates, and it is likely to lower them for the Eurozone. Countries like Italy, which has been immobilized due to the virus, and Germany, which was already battling sluggish growth, are at risk of falling into a recession, if they aren’t already in one.

Travel related industries and oil related companies have been hit especially hard in this week as the number of new coronavirus cases continues to rise and oil prices fell due to a breakdown between OPEC and OPEC+.

We’ve been expecting markets to meet the bear for quite some time now. Since it has been many years since the last official bear market, many investors are meeting it for the first time. Here’s the performance of the three main U.S. indexes from the start of the bull market in March 2009 through to today.

Three Main U.S. Indexes from March 2009 Low to Today.

The CME Group announced Wednesday night it will close its Chicago trading floor in a precautionary move due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The closing will take effect Friday “at the close of business,” CME said in a statement, noting that no coronavirus cases have been reported at the Chicago Board of Trade trading floor.

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