By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com -- Panic selling continued in the U.S. stock market on Friday, putting the market on course for its biggest weekly loss since 2008 amid growing signs that the coronavirus outbreak will ultimately cause an economic shock in Western economies as well as in China and its Asian trading partners.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened with another loss of 627 points, or 2.6%, taking it below the 25,000 mark. By 10:33 AM ET (1533 GMT), the DJIA was down 4%, or 1,034 points.
The S&P 500 was down 3.4%, at its lowest since October 2019. The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, fell 2.7%.
Overnight, another sharp jump in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Korea and Iran, coupled with new emergency virus containment measures in Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere, all contributed to keeping the mood negative. A better-than-expected monthly rise of 0.6% in U.S. personal income in January was of little consolation.
"The landscape remains very uncertain," said Mark Dowding, chief investment officer of BlueBay Asset Management in a weekly note. "For now, there is a sense with the coronavirus that things will need to get worse before they can get better."
He argued that the point of "maximum bearishness" could be another couple of weeks away.
"This could coincide with the moment that Covid19 is officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization," something that could lay the groundwork for a coordinated response of policy stimulus, Dowding argued. Such hopes seem far away at the moment, with the U.S. and German governments both playing down the seriousness of the situation.
The bond market is now betting heavily on the Federal Reserve riding to the rescue. The2-Year Treasury bond yield dipped below 1% overnight and then roared lower to 0.91% after St. Louis Fed President James Bullard indicated that the Fed, if not fiscal policy, would react to a global pandemic.
“Further policy rate cuts are a possibility if a global pandemic actually develops with health effects approaching the scale of ordinary influenza, but this is not the baseline case at this time,” Bullard, who doesn’t vote on monetary policy this year, said Friday in prepared remarks to be delivered in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Hot money continued to flood out of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), which lost another 7.1%, taking its losses for the week to over 30%.
Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) suffered similar problems following a surprise quarterly loss after the bell Thursday, losing 17.6%. It’s now down 25% for the week.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was also the subject of some heavy profit-taking, falling 5.1% to its lowest since December. None of the companies mentioned released any news of note.
One stock emphatically bucking the trend was Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM), the maker of software for video conference calls. Zoom Video stock has been flying as participants price in a boom in such calls as Covid-19 spawns a global outbreak of working from home and restrictions on business travel.
JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), L’Oreal (PA:OREP) and Nestle (SIX:NESN) have all said this week they intend to limit staff travel as a result of the outbreak.