Equity Markets plunged around the world, oil tumbled and the stress in U.S. credit markets deepened after the World Health Organization called the virus spread a pandemic and the Trump administration remained unable to detail any stimulus measures to combat the economic fallout. The latest bout of virus-fomented turmoil tipped Dow Jones Industrial Average into a bear market, ending the longest bull run in the history of American equities. The blue-chip slumped 5.9% Wednesday and ended 20% below its February closing record. The S&P 500 dipped into bear territory before closing 19% below its high. The WHO declaration and no comments on stimulus from President Donald Trump rattled markets. Trump said late in the market session that he’d make a statement Wednesday night on the administrations plans. European officials signalled a growing willingness to move soon to combat the virus’s effects on the region’s economy.
Signs that companies in the hardest-hit industries were drawing down credit lines to battle the effects of the virus on their businesses added to anxiety.
Here are the main moves in global markets:
- Private equity titan Blackstone Group Inc. asked companies it controls to draw downtheir bank credit lines to help prevent any liquidity shortfalls.
- All but 10 stocks in the S&P 500 retreated Wednesday, with every industry down at least 3.9%.
- Boeingplunged 18% after it said it plans to draw down all of a $13.8 billion loan. Hilton Worldwide lost 9% when it said it would draw some of its credit line.
- An index of consumer services providers that includes hotels, cruise operators, Starbucks and Chipotle plunged 8.3%.
- European equities wiped out a 2.3% advance sparked by an emergency rate cut in the U.K.
- Municipal bondstumbled, sending rates on 10-year benchmark state and local government debt higher by 22 basis points, the most since records began in 2011.
- The yen surged 1%, while the euro advanced with the pound.
- Crude sank 4.2% to sink below $33 a barrel.
- Asian equities lost 1.7%.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden cemented his position as front-runner for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination with primary victories Tuesday, further easing concerns among those opposing Bernie Sanders’s progressive platform. Just as I go to press President Donald Trump said he will suspend all travel from Europe to the U.S. for the next 30 days, the most far-reaching measure yet in the administration’s efforts to combat the spread of Coronavirus. Trump, speaking early this morning from the Oval Office, said the restrictions, which won’t apply to the U.K., will go into effect Friday at midnight. He blamed the European Union for not curbing travel from China in the early days of the outbreak, and credited his own measures with having limited the number of cases in the U.S.
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” Trump said. As a result, “clusters” of infection in the U.S. “were seeded by” European travelers, he added.
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