U.S. equity markets logged their worst performance in years on Monday as investors absorbed the latest information on the impact of the growing coronavirus outbreak around the world.
The Dow Jones Industrial average was down 2013 points at the close of trading, a 7.8% decline that marked the index’s worst-ever showing on a total points basis. (The 22% decline in the Oct. 19, 1987, market crash remains the Dow’s biggest one-day drop on a percentage basis.)
The S&P fell more than 200 points in the first few minutes of trading, which led to the New York Stock Exchange implementing a “circuit breaker” halt in an effort to slow the sell-off process. The S&P closed the day down 226 points, or 7.6%. The NASDAQ plunged 625 points, or 7.3%.
Media stocks were battered along with other sectors. Falling oil prices added momentum to the panicky environment. The Dow recovered some ground after the early trading break but lost ground in the final hour.
The undertow was strong enough to take down even the biggest players. Disney was down 9.5% to close at $104.29. Comcast fell 6.1% to $37.88. Netflix shed 6.1% to close at $346.49. AT&T lost 6.4% to close at $34.67.
The media stock most battered during the volatility of the past few weeks remains ViacomCBS. The company logged an 11% drop to close at $19.17, past its previous 52-week low. ViacomCBS has now lost more than half of its market cap since the merger of Viacom and CBS Corp. was completed on Dec. 4.
Shares of Twitter actually made it into positive territory at brief points on the heels of news that activist investor Elliott Management has reached a deal with management to ease its public pressure campaign against the social media giant. The pact calls for Elliott to back off its push to replace CEO Jack Dorsey, while the company has also secured a $1 billion influx from private equity giant Silver Lake. For the day, Twitter was down 3% to $32.46.