Wall Street tumbles as USA virus cases climb

S&P 500 set to dip after bumper session as virus threat rages on

Wall Street fell on Friday, ending a massive three-day surge as doubts about the fate of the USA economy resurfaced and the number of coronavirus cases in the country climbed.

At 05:30 a.m. EDT, Dow e-minis were down 443 points, or 1.99 per cent, S&P 500 e-minis were down 51.5 points, or 1.97 per cent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 161 points, or 2.05 per cent. Chevron and Disney each fell more than 8%.

United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta rose between 7% and 13%, while Boeing rose 15% to build on a strong rally this week, boosted by a $58 billion provision for the aerospace industry in the latest aid bill.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded four new highs and 19 new lows. Energy was pressured by a 4.8% drop in crude prices. As of Thursday's NY settle, WTI was 66% lower compared to its most recent 52-week high of $66.60 per barrel in April 2019.

All three main indexes had snapped higher in early trading following reports that Washington had reached a deal on a US$2 trillion stimulus package to aid businesses and millions of Americans hit by the economic fallout of the outbreak.

The Dow closed down 915 points, or 4%.

The Dow and the S&P 500 on Thursday had marked their biggest three-day gains since the Great Depression in anticipation of the measure.

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The University of MI survey found consumer sentiment fell 11.9 points in March - the biggest one month drop since October 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis. As of Friday, the US had more than 97,000 confirmed cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. "Two other uncertainties facing investors (the length of the economic quarantine required to contain the virus and the ultimate economic damage) remain unresolved".

Stocks were also influenced by sagging oil prices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 3.6%.

The S&P 500 fell more than 3.3% and the Nasdaq dropped 3.8% on Friday. Asian markets closed mostly higher. China's Shanghai Composite inched upwards 0.3% after the central government said it limit the entry of foreigners into China.

Sentiment took a hit as investors focused back on the coronavirus outbreak as the US became the country with the most confirmed cases. Analysts said investors were again taking profit ahead of the weekend, a prudent step given the pandemic in the U.S.is expected to worsen over the next two to three weeks.

"We may have had a good run this week but the weekend can feel like a long time at moments like this and the numbers [we are] getting from the U.S., which now has more cases than China or Italy, are getting uglier by the day", Craig Erlam, senior currency analyst at OANDA, wrote in a commentary.

Earlier in the week, the Federal Reserve signaled a wide-ranging effort to help the US economy by extending loans and purchasing hundreds of billions of dollars in government debt.

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