By Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch
U.S. stock indexes finished another bruising week with sharp losses as panic over the coronavirus outbreak refused to abate, amid the acceleration of the global death toll. Investors haven’t yet been comforted by the government’s response to limit the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic, whose severity and duration is unclear, and an early Friday rally faded fast.
Some volatility in Friday’s trade may be attributed to the so-called quadruple witching, the simultaneous expiration of single-stock options and futures and index options and futures.
How are major benchmarks performing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.91% fell 913.21 points, or 4.6%, at 19,173.98, representing the lowest level for the blue-chip gauge since Oct. 10, 2016, even after the index touched an intraday high at 20,531.26 on Friday. The S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.97% closed at 2,304.92, down 104.47 points or 4.3%, marking its lowest level since Feb. 8, 2017. Meanwhile, the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.78% shed 271 points to end at 6,879.52, a decline of 3.8% after hitting a high at 7,354.44 on the session.
For the week, the Dow lost 17.3% weekly decline, the S&P 500 was set to fall 14.98% on the week, while the Nasdaq was looking at an 12.64% weekly drop.
The Dow is off 35.1% from its Feb. 12 peak, while the S&P 500 is 32% and the Nasdaq is down nearly 30% from their Feb. 19 peaks, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
What’s driving the market?
Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., hurried to assemble a second bailout package to help lessen the current and anticipated economic pain from the pandemic, but not fast enough for Wall Street, with stocks marking their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.
“Late into an extraordinary week we are feeling a little bit better about the escalating economic policy response to the virus crisis though it is nowhere near complete and we worry that essential next steps are not secured yet,” wrote Krishna Guha, vice chairman of Evercore ISI, in a Friday research note.
More than 14,000 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. along with over 200 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, more than 245,000 cases have been confirmed.
On Friday, President Trump said that interest on student loans would be waived temporarily and earlier, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the U.S. tax filing day in the U.S. would be moved to July 15, extending the deadline from April 15.
Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, on Thursday introduced a stimulus package that could top $1 trillion and would include direct payments of $1,200 for individuals and with married couples eligible to for $2,400, according to the Wall Street Journal .
The Senate proposal comes as reports show that jobless claims could soar to more than 2 million by next week, according to a research report analysts at Goldman Sachs.
A Thursday a report on claims from those seeking unemployment benefits showed that 281,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance for the first time in the March 14 week, the highest since 2017.
Attempts to soften the blow to businesses and individuals also come as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential businesses to close and said residents should stay home amid the pandemic. California on Thursday also ordered its roughly 40 million residents to remain at home to help limit the spread of the pathogen.