UPDATED: U.S. equities took another sharp drop on Friday, snapping a three-day streak of big gains and ending hope that the markets were starting to settle down after the wild swings spurred by the coronavirus-related clampdown on the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 700 points, or more than 3%, a few minutes into the session, which ended with a 915 point drop, or 4%, to close at 21,636.78. That was a reversal from the past three days when stocks gained significant ground after two weeks of historic market losses. The NASDAQ closed Friday down 295 points, or 3.8%, while the S&P 500 sank 88 points, or 3.4%.
Even the news of the House’s passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk couldn’t cheer the session. But the closer to an up-and-down week was still not as brutal as last week’s 2997-point loss, registered on March 16.
At the close on Thursday, the Dow was up almost 18% and had logged such big gains in previous two sessions that stocks were technically back in bull market territory with a 20% gain over the low that was hit on March 11 amid the panicky selloff. But there were no celebrations given the historic volatility of key indices this month.
After making up some ground earlier in the week, Disney, Comcast, ViacomCBS, AT&T, Lionsgate, Discovery and AMC Networks were all down single digits. Disney, which confirmed that it will keep Disneyland and Disney World closed indefinitely in the final half-hour of trading, closed down 8.5% to $96.45. Discovery (down 9% to $19.03), ViacomCBS (down 8.6% to $12.79) and Lionsgate (down 7% to $5.85) took similar hits.
The company seen as best positioned to weather the stay-at-home storm, Netflix, was pulled down but by less than 2%, to $357.12. Facebook (down 4%), Amazon (down 2.8%) and Apple (down 4.1%) were not immune to the downturn.
Analysts chalked up the swing to the red as driven in part by the magnitude of more than 3.2 million unemployment claims filed this week, far and away a record for the U.S. in the modern era, and indications that the COVID-19 contagion is spreading to new hot spots around the country, promising that there is no clear end in sight to the preventative shutdowns that have caused such economic devastation.