Stocks Fall Sharply Again, Volatility Is On The Rise, Coronavirus Risk Drags On Sentiment

Equities Shed 2.25% In Early Trading

The U.S. equity market is indicated to open sharply lower in early trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ Composite are all down about -2.25% with industrial giants in the lead. The moves are not a surprise in a week filled with record-setting market movements and confirm traders are still nervous. The spreading coronavirus is going to have a negative impact on future earnings that grows larger with each passing day.

In the latest news, California has declared a state of emergency. The state confirms its first death and the possibility undiagnosed infected are moving within the population. The death is reported to be a man who had disembarked a cruise ship in Los Angeles, others are known to have exited the ship as well. The U.S. Congress voted in an $8.3 billion spending package that passed with little to no opposition. The CDC says it is going to purchase 500 million high-grade masks as part of the strategic stockpile. The guaranteed purchases are hoped to spur manufacturers to ramp production.

The latest statistics have the total number of infected at 95,700 with 3,280 dead. China remains the hardest hit but its containment efforts seem to have arrested the acceleration of spread if not the spread itself. South Korea is still the #1 hardest hit outside of China with Italy and Iran not far behind. South Africa is the latest to announce the first case. Needless to say, the virus is going to be with us for a while and likely spark further volatility.

Stocks On The Move

An airline industry group has estimated the total cost to air carriers related to the virus at up to $113 billion. The news has the entire group down about -4.0%. Shares of Ciena, however, are moving higher after the networking company reported much better than expected figures.

The yield on the Ten Year Treasury fell below 1.0% for the first time ever on Thursday. The move is sparked by the Fed’s surprise rate cut on Tuesday and growing risk within the equities market. The VIX, a measure of market volatility and fear, is moving higher in early trading and may soon retest the freshly set high.

The U.S. Economy Is Still Strong

The U.S. economy is still strong, at least according to today’s labor data. The number of jobless claims fell for first-week claims and held steady for second-week claims. The data, which is slightly rear-looking, is trending near historic lows and consistent with tight labor conditions. Traders will be looking for more confirmation of labor market health in tomorrow’s NFP report.