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Dow drops 500 points in Wall Street’s fourth straight day of losses

Dow plunges 900 points in Wall Street’s fourth straight day of losses as coronavirus surge dashes hopes of a speedy recovery

  • Wall Street’s main indexes closed lower on Wednesday as cases rose 
  • New hospitalizations set records in the Midwest, while Europe eyes lockdowns
  • Wall Street’s fear gauge spiked to its highest level in nearly two months 

Wall Street’s main indexes closed lower on Wednesday as coronavirus cases rose at an alarming rate in the United States and Europe, dashing hopes of a speedy global economic recovery.

Although October 28 is statistically the best trading day of the year, the main indexes plunged as new cases and hospitalizations set records in the Midwest, and Europe eyed new lockdowns. 

At the closing bell, the Dow was down 943.24 points, or 3.4 percent, to 26,519.95. The S&P 500 dropped 3.5 percent and the Nasdaq lost lost 3.7 percent. 

The selling was widespread, and 96 percent of stocks in the S&P 500 fell. 

The New York Stock Exchange is seen on Monday. Wall Street’s main indexes opened lower on Wednesday as coronavirus cases rose at an alarming rate

Wall Street’s fear gauge spiked to its highest level in nearly two months as investors feared a contentious election among other outcomes in the final six-day stretch to the White House race.

Democratic challenger Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump nationally by 10 percentage points, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll but the competition is tighter in swing states, which will decide the victor.

Microsoft Corp’s quarterly results surpassed analysts targets, benefiting from a pandemic-driven shift to working from home and online learning. However, its shares fell 2 percent after rising 35 percent so far this year.

The other Big Tech companies – Apple, Alphabet , Amazon and Facebook – which are due to report results on Thursday, fell between 0.9 percent and 1.6 percent. 

Even if the most restrictive pandemic lockdowns don´t return, investors worry that the worsening pandemic could scare away customers of businesses regardless and sap away their profits.

A five-day view of the Dow shows the sharp drop in early trading on Wednesday

A five-day view of the Dow shows the sharp drop in early trading on Wednesday

Stocks of companies that most need the virus to abate for their businesses to get back to normal were slumping to some of the sharpest losses. Cruise operators Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line all dropped at least 4 percent.

Markets were dropping even more sharply in Europe, where investors expect the French president to announce tough measures to slow the virus´ spread and Germany’s chancellor is pressing for a partial lockdown that could include the closures of bars and restaurants. 

The measures may not be as stringent as lockdowns that swept the world early this year, but the worry is they could still hit the global economy when it is already so weakened.

Policymakers in Europe ‘must choose between low unemployment or low COVID transmission rates. Unfortunately, they are now left dealing with the most sensitive currency of them all, people’s lives,’ Stephen Innes of Axi said in a report.

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