Published: Sat, March 21, 2020
Markets | By Otis Pena

Wall Street notches worst weekly decline since 2008

Wall Street notches worst weekly decline since 2008

Stocks indexes were mostly higher in Asia and Europe on Friday.

The sense of gloom surrounding the outlook for the USA and global economies deepened further on Friday after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential businesses to keep their workers home as cases of confirmed COVID-19 in the state topped 7,000 - the highest in the nation.

As trading on Wall Street finished for the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sat at just over 19,000 points, down 4.6 percent from a day earlier, after a week in which the gains of the Trump administration were wiped out by panic over the Covid-19 coronavirus. Friday's drop culminated a staggering week of losses as the coronavirus impact took an economic toll.

The three states encompass more than 70 million people and the three biggest cities in America: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Also, federal authorities this week moved to close the borders with Canada and Mexico, with more than 12,000 coronavirus cases having been confirmed in the United States as of Friday. The move leaves restaurants, retailers and other businesses dependent on consumer traffic in economic limbo as they're forced to close doors and furlough or lay off workers.

Investors are now counting on further stimulus over the next few days, as the U.S. Senate mulls a $1 trillion package that would include direct financial help for Americans.

Friday will be the final day of live trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, with all trading moving online after two traders tested positive for coronavirus.

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It's the biggest effort yet to shore up households and the US economy as the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting nationwide shutdown rushes the country toward a likely recession that may have already begun.

"The bottom line here is the market is clearly actively anticipating the fiscal stimulus plan".

Normal economic activity in the U.S. has come to a grinding halt as cities lockdown and people stay indoors to contain the spread of COVID-19. "It's nearly like we're going to continue to be in these volatile swings until we get a little more clarity on how large that plan is", said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Stocks sank to their worst week since the financial crisis of 2008 as traders went into full retreat out of fear that the coronavirus will plunge the USA and other major economies into deep recessions.

S&P 500 utilities fell 8.2 per cent on the day, leading sector declines.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 50 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded four new highs and 154 new lows.

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