96°F
weather icon Clear

As physical, economic toll of virus worsens, markets take beating

Updated April 1, 2020 - 1:39 pm

NEW YORK — Wall Street and markets around the world fell sharply Wednesday as the economic and physical toll caused by the coronavirus outbreak mounts — and as experts say they still can’t predict when it will end.

The S&P 500 lost 4.4% after the White House said anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die from COVID-19, even if the country follows guidelines to avoid shopping trips, eating at restaurants and other activities through April. Florida’s governor became the latest to issue a statewide stay-at-home order.

Such restrictions have already deeply gashed the economy, and Whiting Petroleum, one of the biggest drillers in the Bakken shale formation, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday, with the price of oil near $20 a barrel. Automakers also reported sharp drops in U.S. sales for March, including a 43% plunge for Hyundai. Mortgage applications tumbled 24% from the prior week as open houses are all but shut down.

“There is a lot of uncertainty,” said Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Verdence Capital Advisors. “The negative news is really taking over.”

World markets also slammed

The negative news was also global. Japanese stocks took some of the world’s heaviest losses, down 4.5%, after a survey of business sentiment there fell to its worst result in seven years. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 3.8% after big banks there scrapped dividend payments, part of a worldwide effort by companies and households alike to conserve cash.

Stocks have plunged this year as the coronavirus pandemic forces economies into what is expected to be a steep, sudden recession. The S&P 500 just closed out its worst quarter since 2008 with a 20% loss.

“The challenge for investors is you don’t know how deep and how wide this downturn may be,” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “It ends up being a true leap of faith that the forecast and the duration of the pandemic will be accurate.”

A report on Wednesday said that private U.S. employers cut 27,000 jobs last month, which was actually much milder than economists were expecting. The survey used data from March before the number of people seeking unemployment benefits exploded to a record.

Even Friday’s more comprehensive jobs report from the government may not show the full scale of the layoffs sweeping the country, according to Rhea Thomas, senior economist at Wilmington Trust. Small businesses are seeing the sharpest declines in employment, and some firms that closed may not be responding to the survey.

The government’s weekly jobless claims report may offer a better view. The next batch of numbers comes Thursday, and economists say it could blow past last week’s total of nearly 3.3 million initial claims, which itself was quintuple the prior record.

The number of infections keeps rising, which worsens the uncertainty. The United States has more than 206,000 cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. That leads the world, which has more than 911,000 confirmed cases.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Aid from capital coming

Stocks had cut some of their severe losses in recent weeks as Washington swooped in with aid for the economy and markets.

The S&P 500 jumped nearly 18% in just three days last week as Congress struck a deal on a $2.2 trillion rescue package for the economy and the Federal Reserve promised to buy as many Treasurys as it takes to get lending markets running smoothly.

House Democrats are already collecting ideas for a possible fourth round of aid for the economy, and Trump has tweeted his support for a $2 trillion infrastructure package. But top Republicans in Congress say they first want to see how well their just-approved programs do.

The S&P 500 fell 114.09 points to 2,470.50, and all 11 sectors that make up the index lower. Among the few gainers were Kellogg, Dollar General and other companies selling day-to-day essentials that households are stocking up on to ride out stay-at-home orders.

On the losing end was Macy’s, whose drop Wednesday brought its loss for 2020 so far to nearly 74%. So much of the company’s market value has vanished that S&P Dow Jones Indices is removing it from the S&P 500 index of big U.S. companies, skipping its index of mid-sized stocks and placing it into its small-stock index, effective Monday.

The market’s hardest-hit areas included banks, utilities and other dividend payers.

“There are more worries now about this rippling through dividend payments and cutting back on the income investors are getting,” said Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 973,65, or 4.4%, to 20,943.51, and the Nasdaq composite fell 339.52, or 4.4%, to 7,360.58.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 0.63% from 0.70% late Tuesday. A bond’s yield drops when its price rises, and investors buy long-term Treasurys when they’re fearful because they see U.S. government bonds as having virtually no risk of default

AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed from Tokyo.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Status of renters and homeowners during COVID19 pandemic - Video
Rj reporter Eli Segall discusses how COVID19 is affecting renters and homeowners in Nevada. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Health experts: Smoking in casinos should be banned - Video
Experts say smoking can spread the COVID-19 coronavirus. But not because of airborne particulates. The virus could spread from a smoker’s likely pattern of fingers-to-mouth-to-gaming-device. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights’ empathy questioned
A sports talk host called this week a public relations disaster for the Knights and a tourism official said it may shorten the honeymoon period between the team and its devoted fan base.
Chinese visitors in Las Vegas - Video
There were 236,970 visitors from China in Las Vegas in 2018, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resorts World Las Vegas lights up - Video
Construction crews tested exterior lights at Resorts World on the Las Vegas Strip, May 19. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Station Casinos releases health and safety plan for reopening - Video
Station Casinos rolled out new health and safety protocols Monday morning, May 18, including the use of thermal scanners, testing all employees for COVID-19 and “enhanced cleaning technologies.” (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Maverick Helicopters offers 250 free tours for two - VIDEO
Maverick Helicopters will restart its flights on Friday, according to a news release. To celebrate, Maverick will give away 250 flights for two with its “Our Vegas” promotion. (James Schaffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts to bring back free parking on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
MGM Resorts on Monday announced free parking for all guests at its Strip resorts for the foreseeable future. New York-New York and Bellagio are the first announced hotels to reopen for casino business and return to the golden days of no-cost parking.
Laughlin’s iconic Colorado Belle to stay closed indefinitely - VIDEO
The Colorado Belle, an iconic hotel-casino on the Colorado River in Laughlin, will stay closed for the foreseeable future and lay off its 400 workers. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Laughlin’s iconic Colorado Belle to stay closed indefinitely; 400 to lose jobs - VIDEO
The Colorado Belle, an iconic hotel-casino on the Colorado River in Laughlin, will stay closed for the foreseeable future and lay off its 400 workers.
MSG Sphere construction site remains dormant - Video
The MSG Sphere at The Venetian construction site remains sidelined and representatives of MSG Entertainment offered no updates on when workers might return. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Gaming Control Board keeping reopening plans confidential
The state Gaming Control Board requires every licensee, from the megaresorts to the corner gas station convenience store slot machine operators, to submit reopening plans, but they intend to keep them confidential.
Natural turf added to Allegiant Stadium field tray
The massive field tray, which will roll in and out of the stadium, has a fresh layer of natural grass turf for Raiders home games.
Players show up at Gila River Casino in Arizona - Video
Gila River Casino at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona, is packed with players on the casino’s reopening day, Friday, May 15, 2020. (Elizabeth BrumleyLas Vegas Review-Journal)
Casinos reopening in Phoenix area - Video
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino reopened in Maricopa, Arizona, on Friday, May 15, 2020. It was closed during the government shutdown for coronavirus. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Entertainment to phase In reopenings - Video
Caesars Entertainment, the operator of Caesars Palace and eight other Las Vegas resorts, on Monday announced it would phase in reopenings with a comprehensive safety and health plan with employees wearing masks across its network of properties. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Gaming Commission meeting
Full meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson winery reacts to Sisolak's economic plan - VIDEO
Governor Sisolak's reopening plan is easier said than done for the only winery in Clark County. Grape Expectations is trying to figure out how to open up shop when they are three businesses in one. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southwest requiring face coverings
In an effort to increase safety for passengers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, Southwest Airlines is updating protocols that include requiring passengers to wear face coverings beginning May 11.
Locals rush to reopened tennis courts
Daniel Nunez and Sarah Germain made immediate plans to go to their local tennis court, Darling Tennis Center, when they received an email that the facility would open on May 1.
Businesses in Henderson begin reopening - VIDEO
In downtown Henderson and at The District at Green Valley Ranch, small shops are opening their doors for business. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM CEO: Bellagio, New York-New York to reopen first after shutdown - VIDEO
The head of MGM Resorts International isn’t sure when he’ll be able to open properties in Las Vegas, but said Thursday that New York-New York and Bellagio will likely be the first to open their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New visitation report shows plunging numbers for March
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Thursday that convention attendance fell 54.8 percent to 249,800. March normally is one of the city’s strongest months for conventions and trade shows.
US jobless claims climb to 30 million in 6 weeks - VIDEO
The Labor Department released the tally of the most recent jobless claims on Thursday. First-time claims for the week ending on April 25 increased by more than 3.84 million. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian to have EMTs, thermal cameras upon reopening - VIDEO
The hotel-casino operator, Las Vegas Sands Corp., announced updated protocols on April 28 for when its Las Vegas properties reopen, sometime after May 31. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Unions contracts expiring - VIDEO
RJ investigations reporter Arthur Kane and Renee Summerour discuss the uncertainty of union contracts expiring in June, and how the extent of the financial damage from the crisis will make it difficult for unions and governments to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, possibly sending many to arbitration. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Strip hoteliers outline cleaning plans upon reopening - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has yet to confirm when casinos will be able to reopen, but operators are already preparing for the day they’ll have to reassure guests their properties are clean and safe amid the virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Treasure Island plans to reopen May 15 - VIDEO
Treasure Island is planning to open its doors to guests May 15, despite Gov. Steve Sisolak saying Wednesday that gaming shutdowns, currently set to end April 30, will probably be extended an undetermined amount of time. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders logo goes up on Henderson headquarters - VIDEO
The iconic Raiders emblem gets installed on the team's headquarters and practice facility in Henderson on April 22, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Macao casino owner Stanley Ho dies at 98

Casino tycoon Stanley Ho, whose business empire dominated the Portuguese gambling enclave of Macao for decades, has died in Hong Kong at age 98.

In immigrant-heavy industry, meatpackers face worker shortage

Companies struggling to hire before the pandemic are spending millions on fresh incentives. Their hiring capability hinges on unemployment, industry changes, employees’ feelings about safety, and President Donald Trump’s aggressive and erratic immigration policies.