Dow Plunges 1,000 points, Heads for Worst Day Since April

Stocks fell sharply on Thursday as coronavirus cases increased in some states that are reopening up from lockdowns. Shares that have surged recently on hopes for a smooth reopening of the economy led the declines…

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 806 points lower, or 3%. The S&P 500 slid 2.5% while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.7%. Thursday’s losses put the Dow on pace for its first three-day losing streak in a month. The S&P 500 was also headed for its longest losing streak since early March.

Shares of United Airlines, Delta, American and Southwest all dropped more than 10%. Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line shares fell more than 14%. Gap and Kohl’s shares also fell more than 9% each.

Netflix and Amazon — two stocks that have benefited from consumers staying at home during the pandemic — rose 2.3% and 0.5%, respectively, clawing back earlier losses.

Concerns about a second wave of coronavirus cases have risen as U.S. states push deeper into reopening. Texas has reported three consecutive days of record-breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations. Nine California counties are reporting a spike in new coronavirus cases or hospitalizations of confirmed cases, AP reported Wednesday.

Friendly monetary policy from the Federal Reserve cannot “offset a severe COVID second wave,” said Dennis DeBusschere, macro research analyst with Evercore ISI, in a note. “With TX, AZ, CA new cases and hospitalizations increasing and investors concerned that recent protest will fuel a wave of infections, the risk of persistently weak economic and earnings growth has increased. S&P fair value estimates are falling as a result.”

To be sure, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said states such as Arizona and Texas “never really got rid of the first wave.” He added: “It’s not a second wave.”

Overall coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 2 million, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The downdraft followed two straight days of losses for the 30-stock Dow and S&P 500 as investors ditched reopening trades for the megacap tech names. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, however, jumped to a record high on Wednesday and closed above 10,000 for the first time.

Chart of the daily percent change in the S&P 500 over the past 11 trading days

Both the S&P 500 and the Dow are still up more than 40% from the coronavirus low. The incredible comeback started with investors betting on technology companies like Amazon that were doing well despite the pandemic, but in the last month reopening bets like airlines have been the biggest gainers. Now investors are rotating back into those tech names and taking profits in the rest of the market.

Traders also sold oil futures contracts and loaded up on traditionally safer assets such as bonds and gold. West Texas Intermediate futures dropped 7.5% to $36.63 per barrel. The 10-year Treasury note yield dropped to 0.67% and hit its lowest level in more than a week (yields move inversely to prices). Gold futures jumped 1.5% to $1,746.50 per ounce.

Thursday’s moves also followed the Federal Reserve warning on Wednesday the U.S. economy will contract by…

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