The widening coronavirus epidemic sent US stocks plunging for the seventh straight session on Friday, capping their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average went on a wild roller-coaster ride as new infections were reported beyond mainland China, sinking as much as 1086.07 points, or 4.3 percent, before narrowing its losses in the final minutes to close at 25,409.36, down 357.28 points, or 1.4 percent.
A day earlier, the blue-chip index had suffered its worst single-day drop in its history, dropping nearly 1,200 points. Friday’s drop brought the Dow’s total loss for the week to more than 3,500 points.
Stocks sagged despite Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaling Friday afternoon that the central bank was preparing to cut interest rates to counter economic damage as the virus spreads. That was after St. Louis Fed president James Bullard had thrown cold water on the idea earlier Friday, saying a rate cut would only be on the table if the virus grew into a full-blown pandemic.
The Nasdaq tumbled as much as 3.5 percent before recovering late in the day to end flat. The S&P 500 dropped as much as 4.1 percent before ending the day down 0.8 percent at 2,954.22. The latter index posted its fastest-ever correction, which is defined as a 10 percent fall from the recent peak, after hitting its all-time high just a week ago.
While stocks briefly narrowed their losses after Powell’s statement, they collapsed again late in the afternoon as new infections reported around the world surpassed those in mainland China. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Wednesday confirmed an infection of unknown origin in California.
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