Dow falls nearly 1,000 points as coronavirus whipsaws markets

Airlines were among the hardest hit after Southwest issued COVID-19 warning

It was another rollercoaster ride for U.S. equity markets on Thursday as California and Washington declared state of emergencies tied to the coronavirus.

Amid heavy volatility, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid over 970 points, or 3.5 percent, one day after rallying 4.5 percent, or 1,173 points -- the second-biggest point gain in its history. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite tumbled over 3 percent.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 34899.34 -905.04 -2.53%
SP500 S&P 500 4594.62 -106.84 -2.27%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 15491.656804 -353.57 -2.23%

Thursday’s weakness comes after the number of U.S. cases of COVID-19 climbed to 129 and the death toll ticked up to 11, including the first fatality outside of Washington state. Authorities in both Washington and California declared a state of emergency because of the outbreak, which has infected at least 93,090 people worldwide and killed 3,198.

Looking at stocks, airlines were lower after Southwest said it expects first-quarter revenue to take a hit of up to $300 million due to demand destruction caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. On Wednesday, United Airlines said it would cut international flights by 20 percent and domestic flights by 10 percent and Jet Blue announced it would reduce flights and lay off staff.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 44.96 -2.03 -4.32%
DAL DELTA AIR LINES, INC. 36.38 -3.31 -8.34%
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP, INC. 17.75 -1.71 -8.79%
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS, INC. 42.26 -4.47 -9.57%
JBLU JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP. 13.62 -0.84 -5.81%

An elderly passenger who traveled on the Grand Princess cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corp., from Feb. 11-21 has died from COVID-19, and the cruise operator has said current passengers on its vessels have been quarantined until receiving clearance from medical staff.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
CCL CARNIVAL CORP. 17.95 -2.21 -10.96%
NCLH NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE HOLDINGS LTD. 20.06 -2.57 -11.36%
RCL ROYAL CARIBBEAN GROUP 67.98 -10.36 -13.22%

Meanwhile, drugmakers working on a treatment for COVID-19 were mostly higher.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
NVAX NOVAVAX, INC. 217.97 +17.90 +8.95%
GILD GILEAD SCIENCES, INC. 70.27 +0.20 +0.29%
INO INOVIO PHARMACEUTICALS 7.25 +0.33 +4.77%

Elsewhere, General Motors rolled out plans for 13 new electric vehicles that are set to hit the market over the next five years. New battery technology will allow some of those vehicles to travel up to 400 miles on a single charge.

Technology firm HP rejected Xerox's latest takeover attempt, saying the $24 per share offer undervalues the company.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. 60.17 -2.02 -3.25%
XRX XEROX HOLDINGS CORP. 19.26 -0.94 -4.65%
HP HELMERICH & PAYNE, INC. 23.40 -1.89 -7.47%

On the earnings front, BJ's Wholesale Club reported its quarterly earnings fell from the same period a year earlier, but forecast 2020 profits and sales will see year-over-year increases.

The video conferencing company Zoom Video Communications reported better-than-expected top- and bottom-line results, but shares were under pressure as investors had expected its full-year forecast to be stronger as COVID-19 forces businesses to rely more on communications technology than travel for important meetings.

Kroger's quarterly profit topped estimates as its private-label products provided a boost.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BJ BJS WHSL CLUB HLDGS INC 66.34 -1.37 -2.02%
ZM ZOOM VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS, INC. 220.21 +11.91 +5.72%
KR THE KROGER CO. 43.14 +0.60 +1.41%

Looking at commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell to the $45 per barrel level after OPEC agreed to cut production by 1.5 million barrels per day to combat a supply glut so long as Russia joins. Gold gained 1.9 percent to $1,674 an ounce.

Demand for U.S. Treasurys drove the yield on the 10-year note down to a record low 0.914 percent.

European markets tumbled with France’s CAC down 1.9 percent, Germany’s DAX lower by 1.5 percent and Britain’s FTSE off 1.6 percent.

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Asian markets were sharply higher with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 2.1 percent, China’s Shanghai Composite adding 2 percent and Japan’s Nikkei rallying 1.1 percent.