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Stock Market Plummets for Third Consecutive Day Amid Growing Coronavirus Fears

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Major U.S. stock indices were down sharply for the third day in a row amid fears about the spreading coronavirus crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened Thursday in positive territory but began a steep decline within the first half-hour of trading. The Dow finished out with a 1,190-point drop, or 4.4%, worse than the decline of 1,031 points on Monday. The NASDAQ fell 414 points, or 4.6%.

The plunge came a day after President Donald Trump held a news conference to assure Americans that the federal government is prepared to respond to a public health emergency if the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. begins to spike.

The Dow was down more than 900 points but had recovered some by 11 a.m. ET. Media stocks weathered the downturn pretty well, with most major players seeing declines in the 2%-3% range. Apple was down 6.5% for the day.

Disney closed the day down 4.3%, to $118.04. The company underwent a surprise CEO handoff this week — with Bob Iger handing the reins to former theme parks chief Bob Chapek — but the stock shakiness is largely attributed to the company’s vulnerability to pandemic fears. Disney has shuttered Shanghai Disneyland because of the outbreak in China, and indications of a widening crisis will surely dampen attendance at other Disney parks around the world.

Discovery Inc. shares were down nearly 7% on the heels of Thursday’s quarterly earnings announcement, even as it reported gains in advertising and distribution revenue. But Discovery is heavily invested in Olympic TV rights in Europe, and investors raised concerns about the potential for a coronavirus-related disruption to the upcoming Tokyo summer Olympics.

Netflix was among the few media-related stocks to manage a gain amid the broader undertow. Shares in the streaming giant perked up about 2% in early trading but were off 2% at the close of trading.

The Dow plunged more than 1,000 points on Tuesday, followed by a see-saw day on Wednesday that ended up down 124 points at the close.