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Stock Market News for Mar 10, 2020

Benchmarks tanked more than 7% on Monday as oil price war and coronavirus outbreak unnerved investors.

The three major indexes — the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite — closed in the red on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 23,851.02 after losing 7.8%, the broader S&P 500 reached 2,746.56 after declining 7.6% and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite hit 7,950.68 after decreasing 7.3%. The drops in the three benchmarks were the biggest one-day percentage declines since 2008.

The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) increased 23% to close at 54.46 on Mar 9. Finally, decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 17.86-to-1 ratio.

Coronavirus Fears Trigger Sharp Selloff

U.S. equities hovered dangerously close to bear-market territory on Monday as investors closely monitored the Coronavirus situation around the globe. More investors made their way to safe-haven assets.

As of Mar 9, the number of people infected crossed 111,000 globally and the death toll hit 3,800. The gravity of the situation was notable in the United States after New York, California and Oregon declared states of emergency.

Over the weekend, Italy’s government decided to quarantine its northern region. In a bid to limit the disease from spreading, the government closed schools, cancelled events and imposed strict rules over public interactions for more than 10 million people.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree that limited community interaction from March 8 to April 3 in regions of Italy that comprises the Lombardy region and other affected provinces. According to the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering’s Centers for Systems Science and Engineering, there were 5,883 cases with 233 deaths in Italy as of Mar 8.

Oil Prices Register Biggest Drop Since 1991

Oil prices registered their biggest one-day drop on Monday since the Gulf War (1991). West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery closed 25% lower at $31.13 a barrel on Monday. May Brent crude, the global benchmark, also went 24% south to hit $34.36 a barrel on Mar 9.

This slide in crude prices came after a sharp drop in oil prices on Mar 6 after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies (OPEC+) failed to agree upon production cuts.

Russia refused to agree to the production cuts which were suggested by Saudi Arabia. In retaliation, Saudi Arabia cut oil prices over the weekend and is getting ready to increase production, waging war against Russia’s market share.

Shares of oil giants such as Exxon Mobil Corporation XOM and Marathon Oil Corporation MRO closed as much as 12.2% and 46.9% lower on Monday. Both the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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