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The major futures indexes are bouncing between gains and losses, searching for direction.
Tuesday's rally on Wall Street suddenly vanished in a market dominated by sharp swings responding to the ups and downs of the news about the coronavirus pandemic.
|I:DJI||DOW JONES AVERAGES||34777.76||+229.23||+0.66%|
|I:COMP||NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX||13752.236737||+119.39||+0.88%|
The S&P 500 dipped 0.2 percent to 2,659.41 after erasing a surge of 3.5 percent earlier in the day. The market’s gains faded as the price of U.S. crude oil abruptly flipped from a gain to a steep loss of more than 9 percent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1 percent to 22,653.86, giving up an earlier gain of 937 points. The Nasdaq composite dropped 3 percent to 7,887.26.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil surged 3.6 percent or 86 cents to $24.48 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 22 cents to $32.09.
In European markets, London's FTSE fell 1.6 percent, Germany's DAX traded 1.1 percent lower and France's CAC dropped 1.7 percent.
In Asia on Wednesday, Japan's Nikkei rose 2 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.2 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite dipped 0.2 percent.
Japan's state of emergency kicked in, focused on seven urban areas, including Tokyo, with strong government requests for people to stay home and restaurants and stores to close for a month. However, there were scant signs of any change in behavior during the morning rush hour.
Experts say more deaths are on the way due to COVID-19, which has already claimed at least 82,000 lives around the world.
The U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases with more than 398,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
More economic misery is also on the horizon. Economists expect a report on Thursday to show that 5 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs sweep the country. That would bring the total to nearly 15 million over the past three weeks.
Analysts also expect big companies in upcoming weeks to report their worst quarter of profit declines in more than a decade.The
Associated Press contributed to this article.