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US Market tumbles amid coronavirus panic

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The US equity market finished session steep lower on Friday, 20 'March 2020, as risk aversion selloff continued amid jittery about the direction of the economy despite hopes for government and central bank action to combat the coronavirus pandemic and protect economies around the world. At closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 913.21 points, or 4.6%, at 19,173.98, representing the lowest level for the blue-chip gauge since Oct. 10, 2016. The S&P 500 retreated 104.47 points or 4.34%, to 2,304.92, its lowest level since Feb. 8, 2017. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 271.06 points, or 3.79% to 6,879.52. For the week, the Dow lost 17.3%, the S&P 500 was down 15%, and the Nasdaq shed 12.64%.

Risk off selloff triggered after Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, a hotspot for coronavirus cases, banned all non-essential travel, mandated non-essential personnel stay at home and required all businesses to shutter if they do not fit specific criteria.

More than 14,000 cases have been confirmed in the U. S. along with over 200 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, more than 245,000 cases have been confirmed.

Investor confidence continued to waver, even amid efforts from governments and central banks to prop up major economies, shield jobs, and provide liquidity to markets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, President Trump said that interest on student loans would be waived temporarily and earlier, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the U. S. tax filing day in the U. S. would be moved to July 15, extending the deadline from April 15. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, on Thursday introduced a stimulus package that could top $1 trillion and would include direct payments of $1,200 for individuals and with married couples eligible to for $2,400.

The Senate proposal comes as reports show that jobless claims could soar to more than 2 million by next week. A Thursday a report on claims from those seeking unemployment benefits showed that 281,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance for the first time in the March 14 week, the highest since 2017.

The US dollar has also weakened against a basket of currencies, snapping a rally that's been sparked by investors rushing to the greenback for safety and liquidity.

Crude oil prices slid after rallying on Thursday. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U. S. gauge of oil prices was $2.69, or 10.7%, lower at $22.53 a barrel. In precious metals, gold futures for April rose $5.30, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,484.60 an ounce on Comex.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 10:25 IST