Dow plunges over 1,400 points, ending in bear market

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NEW YORK: Volatile trading continued on Wall Street on Wednesday with the Dow closing down more than 1,400 points amid coronavirus fears. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 1,464.94 points, or 5.86 per cent, to 23,553.22. The 30-stock index fell into a bear market territory, down more than 20 per cent from last month’s record close, Xinhua reported.

The S&P 500 decreased 140.85 points, or 4.89 per cent, to finish at 2,741.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 392.20 points, or 4.70 per cent, to 7,952.05. All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended lower, with industrials falling 5.95 per cent, the worst-performing group.

Fears that the continued spread of the coronavirus would slow economic growth rattled investors. The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that the COVID-19 outbreak can be characterized as a “pandemic” as the virus spreads increasingly worldwide.

The WHO is “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, as well as by the alarming levels of inaction,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He also urged the international community to take urgent and aggressive action to contain the pandemic.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US has topped 1,000. US President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that he wanted the payroll tax rate to drop to zero through the end of the year. However, details of the policies remain uncertain. The lack of a clear roadmap for Washington’s proposed stimulus measures to mitigate the impact of the virus added to market jitters, experts noted.

On the data front, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the US edged up 0.1 per cent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday. The increase of the CPI, a measurement of inflation, followed a 0.1-per cent growth in January, the report showed. IANS

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