Wall Street slumps again amid fears of deep recession

Traders and financial professionals work on the floor on the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo: Drew Angerer, AFP)
Traders and financial professionals work on the floor on the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo: Drew Angerer, AFP)

Wall Street stocks plunged again Wednesday as the economic toll from the coronavirus mounts and analysts warn of a deep recession.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 6.3 percent, or more than 1,300 points, to close the day at 19,898.92, its first close below 20,000 since 2017.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 5.2 percent to finish at 2,398.10, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 4.7 percent to 6,989.84.

The Dow fell as much as 10 percent during the early afternoon, but stocks rallied somewhat near the end of the session as the US Senate passed a $100 billion emergency package for free coronavirus testing, sick pay and other benefits related to the crisis.

Economists are slashing their forecasts as more sectors shut down. A note from JPMorgan Chase projected US activity would shrink 14 percent in the second quarter, while Europe's output would plunge 22 percent.

"These outcomes are worse than were recorded during the global financial crisis or the European sovereign crisis," the note said of the second quarter.

Petroleum-linked shares suffered an especially brutal round as US oil prices plunged 24 percent to $20.37 a barrel, its lowest price since 2002 on a demand outlook that worsens by the day.

US automakers were another hard-hit industry, with General Motors losing 17.3 percent and Ford 10.2 percent as the "Big Three" shuttered their American production plants because of the virus.

Simon Property Group, a giant in the shopping mall industry, plunged 23.7 percent as it announced that it would close all of its shopping malls through March 29 due to the virus.

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