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Dow surges 5% on hopes for central bank help on the economy

3 years 3 weeks 1 day ago Monday, March 02 2020 Mar 2, 2020 March 02, 2020 3:04 PM March 02, 2020 in News
Source: Associated Press

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 1,200 points, or 5%, on hopes that central banks will take action to shelter the global economy from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The huge gains clawed back some of the ground lost in a massive sell-off last week. Technology companies led the gains. The Dow jumped 1,293 points to 26,703. It was the biggest-ever point gain for the Dow and the biggest percentage gain since March 2009. The S&P 500 index rose 135 points, or 4.6%, to 3,089. The Nasdaq added 384 points, or 4.5%, to 8,952. Bond prices rose again, sending yields lower.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below:

Stocks are rising sharply on Wall Street Monday as traders hope that central banks will take action to help shelter the global economy from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

The market recouped part of the losses it took in a seven-day rout that gave stocks their worst week since the financial crisis of 2008.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 700 points, while the benchmark S&P 500 climbed 2.1%.

Despite the pickup in stocks, the bond market signaled that investors are still worried. Bond prices climbed, pushing yields to more record lows. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.09% from 1.12% late Friday. Gold, another traditional safe-haven asset, rose 1.7%.

The big bounce in stocks came after an especially wild day of trading on Friday in which the Dow sank more than 1,000 points before a late wave of buying left it down 350.

Investors are increasingly anticipating that the Federal Reserve and other major central banks around the world will lower interest rates or take other steps to shield the global economy from the effects of the outbreak.

“Investors have convinced themselves that global central banks will likely be even more accomodative in order to short-circuit any psychological damage, ” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

Bill Nelson, chief economist at the Bank Policy Institute and a former Fed economist, said the Fed and other major central banks, possibly including China’s, could announce coordinated rate cuts by Wednesday morning. The cut would at least be a half-point and perhaps even three-quarters, he said.

“The only way to get a positive market reaction is to deliver more than expected,” he said.

The Dow climbed 744 points, or 2.9%, to 26,149 as of 3:11 p.m. Eastern time. It was briefly up 815 points. The S&P 500 index rose 2.3% and the Nasdaq gained 2.3%. European benchmarks were mostly higher, and Asian markets rose broadly. The price of U.S. crude oil was up 4.6%.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank announced simultaneously Monday that they are ready to help countries affected by the coronavirus through their emergency lending programs and other tools.

“We will use our available instruments to the fullest extent possible,” the IMF managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, and World Bank President David Malpass said in a joint statement. “International cooperation is essential.”

The statement echoed similar promises to act if necessary from the Federal Reserve on Friday and the Bank of Japan over the weekend. Traders have priced in a 100% probability that the Fed will cut rates by a half-percentage point during or before its March meeting.

There were signs that the economic impact was continuing to mount. A measure of China’s manufacturing output plunged last month to its lowest level on record, as the viral outbreak closed factories and disrupted supply chains.

And the Organization for Economic Development, a research organization made up of mostly advanced economies, said Monday that the viral outbreak “presents the global economy with its greatest danger since the financial crisis” in 2008.

The OECD cut its world growth forecast and said that even if there are only limited outbreaks outside China, the global economy will grow just 2.4% this year, the weakest since the crisis. That forecast matches several private estimates.

If other countries are hit with outbreaks similar to China’s, growth could fall as low as 1.5%, the OECD said.

Separately, economists at Goldman Sachs slashed their forecasts for U.S. growth to just 0.9% in the first quarter and to zero for the April-June quarter.

For investors, the great amount of uncertainty over how consumer behavior and spending will be affected has been unsettling.

“It’s not a typical economic blow,” said Bill Strazzullo of Bell Curve Trading. “What if major cities are on some kind of a lockdown? What will that do to restaurants, entertainment, shopping, travel? It’s almost impossible to game this out.”

Last week’s rout knocked every major index into what market watchers call a “correction,” or a fall of 10% or more from a peak. Market watchers have said for months that stocks were overpriced and long overdue for another pullback. The last time the market had a drop of that size was in late 2018, when the trade war with China was escalating and investors were worried about rising interest rates.

The virus outbreak that began in central China has been shutting down industrial centers, emptying shops and severely crimping travel all over the world. More companies are warning investors that their finances will take a hit because of disruptions to supply chains and sales.

Shoppers stocking up on everyday goods as fear over the coronavirus’ spread hits consumers helped lift shares in household goods companies. Costco jumped 8.1%. Walmart rose 6%. Procter & Gamble gained 3.5%.

Stocks in travel-related companies have been among the hardest-hit as the outbreak has led to canceled flights and disrupted vacation plans. Cruise operators continued to pile up losses Monday. Royal Caribbean Cruises fell 2.5%, Norwegian Cruise Line dropped 8% and Carnival fell 4.7%.

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Technology and health care stocks accounted for a big share of the gains. Apple climbed 5.9% and Gilead Sciences rose 6.4%. The biotechnology company has been testing one of its drugs as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.

Given that the main economic impact so far of the virus outbreak is on the supply side of economies rather than on the demand side, questions are being asked as to whether looser monetary policy will have any meaningful impact.

“For all the talk of lower rates the one thing a rate cut can’t do is get people back to work and supply chains back running again,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Stimulus hopes nevertheless helped shore up markets in Asia earlier. The Nikkei 225 index closed 1% higher, while the Shanghai Composite index rose 3.2%. The benchmark for the smaller exchange, in Shenzhen, jumped 3.8%, while South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.8%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 0.6%.

China has seen most of the 90,000 or so virus cases worldwide. In the United States, authorities have counted at least 80 cases of the virus, two fatal, and concern was driving some to wipe store shelves clean of bottled water, hand sanitizer and other necessities. Both deaths were men with existing health problems who were hospitalized in Washington state.

Oil prices have also slumped as traders price in the prospect of lower demand as a result of the virus outbreak. Last week, oil prices tanked by around 15%. On Monday, benchmark U.S. crude was up $2.07 to $46.83 per barrel. Brent, the international standard, rose $2.28 to $51.95.


AP Economics Writers Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman and AP Business Writers Bernard Condon and Pan Pylas contributed.

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