Stocks plummet as Trump’s travel ban adds to investors’ distress.
Stocks continued their plunge on Thursday, as President Trump’s latest effort to address the coronavirus outbreak — a ban on the entry from most European countries to the United States — disappointed investors who have been waiting for Washington to take steps to bolster the economy.
Trading was turbulent, with stocks staging a brief comeback as investors reacted to the Federal Reserve’s decision to offer at least $1.5 trillion worth of loans to banks to help smooth out the functioning of the financial markets. But the selling picked up again by midafternoon.
The S&P 500 closed down about 9.5 percent, its biggest daily drop since the stock market crashed in 1987, on what came to be known as Black Monday. The decline has left stocks in the United States firmly in a bear market — a term that signifies a decline of 20 percent from the most recent highs.
For the Dow Jones industrial average, the drop of 10 percent was also its worst since the 1987 stock market crash.
The travel ban hit shares in Europe particularly hard, with major stock indexes there down more than 10 percent. It also battered airline stocks. And, with oil prices falling, energy companies were among the day’s biggest losers, too.
Waves of selling have come as investors have been dismayed by Washington’s inability to rally around a meaningful response to the economic toll the outbreak will take. Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he would extend financial relief for sick workers and would ask Congress for more. But he remained at loggerheads with Congress on more comprehensive measures.
The most notable step Mr. Trump announced on Wednesday, that the United States would stop travel from most European countries outside Britain for 30 days, hurt financial markets more than it helped. And on Thursday, he said he could restrict domestic travel to regions of the United States when the coronavirus becomes “too hot.”
“Until there are details on the steps that leadership intends to pursue to remedy the economic effects of the viral outbreak, equity markets will be vulnerable,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust.
The Fed intervenes after ‘highly unusual disruptions.’
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York responded on Thursday to increasingly fraught market conditions by announcing that it would offer at least $1.5 trillion worth of short-term loans to banks today and tomorrow and change the structure of its ongoing asset purchase program.
The moves came as the markets for a variety of bonds — including usually easy-to-trade Treasuries — turned messier starting on Wednesday. Traders and strategists reported that markets were thin, and the gap between the prices buyers offered and those that sellers asked for was widening. At the same time, tremors had developed in funding markets, the plumbing of financial markets in which cash flows between banks, as fears over the coronavirus’ economic caused gyrations across Wall Street.
“These changes are being made to address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Fed said in a statement.
Specifically, the central bank announced that it would offer $500 billion in a three-month repurchase operation Thursday afternoon. It also said that it would begin to buy government debt “across a range of maturities.” In recent months, it has been buying $60 billion a month only in short-term Treasury bills.
Analysts viewed the moves as warranted given funding constraints on Wall Street.
“This is a full-blown crisis response operation, intended to make it abundantly clear that the Fed will not allow liquidity to dry up,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note.
What was Black Monday?
October 19, 1987, became known as Black Monday on Wall Street, when the Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.6 percent. In London, Black Monday was spread over two days — with the FTSE 100 in London falling 10.8 percent on Monday and 12.2 percent on Tuesday.
On Thursday, stocks in both countries suffered their worst single-day drop since then — surpassing its biggest decline of the financial crisis in 2008.
But unlike stocks in the United States, trading in London has been volatile for years as investors faced the uncertainty of Britain’s exit from the European Union and the economic chaos that might cause. But the fast spread of the coronavirus in Europe has hit the index, and its counterparts on the European continent, particularly hard.
The FTSE 100 is down about 30 percent since the start of the year, compared with the S&P 500’s drop of about 23 percent.
Widespread worry about economic impact, but with a partisan hue.
Most Americans surveyed are worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, with concern greatest among Democrats and independent voters, according to a nationwide poll conducted by the online research firm SurveyMonkey for The New York Times.
The partisan gap in attitudes in the survey, which was begun last week and completed on Sunday, may reflect Republicans’ greater receptivity to President Trump’s assurances that the economy remains strong and that the virus is under control in the United States.
Three-quarters of independents and more than 8 in 10 Democrats said they worried that the virus outbreak would hurt the economy. Two-thirds of Republicans expressed similar concern.
Political differences were even more pronounced on questions about the potential health effects of the coronavirus and personal precautions against it.
Fewer than two in five Republican respondents in the poll said they were worried that they or someone in their family would be exposed to the virus. Nearly seven in 10 said they had made no changes, such as reducing travel, working from home or wearing medical face masks in public, in response to the virus.
In both cases, Democrats and independents expressed significantly higher degrees of alarm.
Disney will closes its parks in California.
The Walt Disney Company said on Thursday that it would close the Disneyland resort in Anaheim for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, and just the fourth time in its 65-year history, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure — two adjoining, but separately ticketed theme parks — will close on Saturday morning through the end of the month. Disney’s hotels in Anaheim will remain open until Monday.
Disney noted that there had been no reported cases of the virus at the resort.
The company said it would continue to pay its employees while the resort is closed. Refunds will be given for hotel bookings during the closure period.
Media companies cancel their showcases.
CBS and NBC both canceled their annual spring showcases for advertisers, known as upfronts, on Thursday because of fears surrounding the coronavirus.
At the star-studded events, which take place in mid-May and are among the biggest in the television industry, entertainment executives unveil their new upcoming television series and do their best to persuade advertising agencies to buy commercial time.
“We’ll miss Carnegie Hall and our agency dinners this year, but the health and safety of our clients and the ViacomCBS team comes first,” said Jo Ann Ross, the chief advertising revenue officer at ViacomCBS.
Both companies, along with others like Twitter, YouTube and Roku, said they would instead post video presentations online. WarnerMedia and Xandr, AT&T’s advertising unit, said on Thursday that they would scrap their joint live event in May in favor of “a unique video experience.” Cable outlets like Fox News and AMC Networks have also canceled events.
The cancellations could cause havoc for the media companies at a time when they are already confronting diminished ratings and relevance as more people shift to commercial-free streaming video platforms like Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon’s Prime Video.
Here’s what else is happening.
The European Central Bank stepped up its purchases of government and corporate bonds, but disappointed expectations that it would cut a key interest rate.
The actor Tom Hanks said he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the coronavirus. The 63-year-old Academy Award-winning actor is in Australia, where he was set to film a movie about the life of Elvis Presley.
President Trump’s travel ban will hit jet fuel consumption hard. Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil market research at Rystad Energy, estimated that jet fuel use will drop by 600,000 barrels a day, or about 9 percent of the total market.
Iran has asked the International Monetary Fund for a $5 billion emergency loan as it grapples with the deadly coronavirus, the nation’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, disclosed on Twitter on Thursday.
Reporting was contributed by Jack Ewing, Peter S. Goodman, Jim Tankersley, John Koblin, Tiffany Hsu, Jeanna Smialek, Kevin McKenna, Stanley Reed, Keith Bradsher, Liz Alderman, Alexandra Stevenson, Isabella Kwai, Keith Bradsher, Nicole Perlroth, Matthew Goldstein, Geneva Abdul and Carlos Tejada.