Investor fears about the economic fallout over the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) — now classified by WHO officials as a pandemic — pushed stocks down sharply again Wednesday.
The Dow plummeted 1,464.94 points, down 5.86% to about 23,553, its lowest point in nearly two years. That officially pushed the Dow into bear-market territory as the index dropped over 20% off its most recent high. It was the second-biggest absolute drop for the index after Monday, when U.S. stocks had their worst decline in 12 years. The downturn continued a volatile week in financial markets, following a rebound Tuesday.
Media stocks were down across the board. Shares of Lionsgate fell 8.9%, while Disney closed the day down 5.3%, Discovery dropped 4% and ViacomCBS fell 3.6%. AT&T was down 3.7% and Comcast dropped 3%. Netflix closed down 3.9% but is one of the few stocks that is still up year-to-date.
Among technology stocks, Twitter and Snap saw the biggest drops: Twitter closed 8.8% and Snap dropped 9.8%. Also declining were Apple (-3.5%), Amazon (-3.8%), Facebook (-4.5%), and Google’s parent, Alphabet (-5%).
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has now topped 1,000. Worldwide, there are now more than 118,000 coronavirus cases in 114 countries, with 4,291 deaths, according to WHO. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.
About 150 publicly traded companies have warned investors that COVID-19 could affect their current-quarter results, including Apple, Alphabet and Sony, CBNC reported. The travel sector has been hit the hardest by the spread of the outbreak.