Stocks went downhill during Wednesday’s trading session, mostly driven by President Donald Trump’s address to the country late on Tuesday night. Investors were particularly impacted by Trump’s warning of a “very, very painful” two weeks ahead as the country braced for more novel coronavirus casualties. Investors worried that the lockdown extension coupled with the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country would halt small businesses, industries and households further.
The three major indices closed in the red on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the broader S&P 500 and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite closed at 20,943.51, 2,470.50 and 7,360.58 respectively after losing 4.4% each.
The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined 7.2% to close at 52.97 on Apr 1. Finally, decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 9.25-to-1 ratio.
Trump Warns of a “Very, Very Painful Two Weeks”
The negative sentiment among investors on Wednesday was largely a result of Trump’s warning to the country to brace for harder times ahead. On the night of Mar 31, the President addressed a press conference at the White House, saying that the country would go through “a very tough two weeks.”
Trump’s statement came after the White House projected that the ongoing pandemic could claim as many as 100,000 to 240,000 lives in the United States, despite the current social-distancing measures in place.
According to the White House, coronavirus taskforce response coordinator Dr Deborah Birx, the models revealed a worst case scenario of 1.5 million–2.2 million deaths in the country “without mitigation”. However, with the lockdown measures in place, she said that the death toll is projected at 100,000–240,000.
Speaking of economic news, construction spending in February was reported lower by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Apr 1.Cost of construction projects declined 1.3% in February at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.37 trillion.
The spending on private construction came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,025.8 billion, 1.2% lower than the revised January estimate of $1,038.5 billion. Public construction spending was reported at $340.9 billion, 1.5% below the revised January estimate of $345.9 billion.
In addition, economic activity in the manufacturing sector declined last month, per the Institute for Supply Management. The report stated that the March PMI registered 49.1%, a 1 percentage point decline from the February reading of 50.1%. The major reason behind this contraction is the coronavirus pandemic that has taken a toll on industries and businesses in the country.
In fact, new orders and employment dropped to the lowest level in March since the end of the 2007-2009 Great Recession. To be specific, employment slid to a 11-year low last month. The New Orders Index registered 42.2%, a decrease of 7.6 percentage points from the February’s 49.8%. The Employment Index also registered a decline of 3.1 percentage points from February reading of 46.9% to 43.8% in March.
Production in the country declined as well, with the Production Index registering 47.7%, down from February’s reading of 50.3%. The Backlog of Orders Index registered 45.9%, a decline from February’s reading of 50.3%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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