‘Can we panic now?’: Stocks, oil, bitcoin, and Treasury yields plunge after Trump’s coronavirus plan fails to calm investors

AP Photo/Richard Drew

  • Stocks, oil, bitcoin, and Treasury yields plunged Thursday, the morning after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.
  • President Donald Trump gave a televised address in which he announced travel restrictions from Europe and pledged to help affected Americans and support small businesses.
  • One analyst said, however, that Trump’s address “fell short of what investors were hoping for.”
  • “Can we panic now?” another analyst asked.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Stocks, oil, bitcoin, and Treasury yields plunged Thursday, the morning after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic and President Donald Trump gave a nationally televised address from the Oval Office.

Trump announced travel restrictions from most of Europe to the US for 30 days starting Friday. He also pledged to provide financial aid to affected Americans and promised capital and liquidity for small businesses, but he offered few details.

Travel and leisure stocks were among the hardest hit. In the US, Boeing slumped 18%, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Expedia dropped 14%, and American Airlines, United Airlines, and MGM Resorts all slumped 13%. In Europe, travel group Tui and cruise-operator Carnival both slumped 17%, and Airbus dropped 14%.

“The biggest source of disappointment on Wall Street was the lack of specific ways to support people and small- and medium-sized enterprises,” Jasper Lawler, the head of research at London Capital Group, said in a morning note.

“Paid sick leave, free testing, and a solution for uninsured Americans were all missing,” he added.

Other analysts expressed similar sentiments.

“Donald Trump’s public address fell short of what investors were hoping for,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, said in a morning note. They were expecting more, she added, saying the coronavirus threatens “one of the severest economic meltdowns we have experienced over the past decades.”

Read more: Buy these 12 cheap stocks to reap big dividend payments as the market recovers from coronavirus, BTIG says

Moreover, a flood of government funding may do little to alleviate the crisis, Ozkardeskaya argued.

“Proposed financial measures aim at boosting activity at a time when companies slow down operations to prevent further contagion,” she said. “Massive rate cuts have the effect of a sword cutting through the water.”

The new coronavirus — which causes a disease called COVID-19 — has infected more than 126,000 people, killed at least 4,600, and spread to upward of 100 countries. Italy has locked down its entire 60 million population, and the US has more than 1,000 confirmed cases.

The pandemic has prompted New York City to postpone its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations for the first time since 1762 and the NBA to suspend the rest of this season’s games.

Read more: Coronavirus shock is pushing highly indebted ‘zombie’ companies towards financial ruin — and a risky $1 trillion market is already showing the damage a recession would do

“Can we panic now?” Michael Every, a senior Asia-Pacific strategist at RaboResearch, asked in a morning note.

Here’s the market roundup as of 9:42 a.m. ET:

  • US stocks opened sharply lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq tumbled more than 7%.
  • European equities plunged, with Germany’s DAX down 10.7%, Britain’s FTSE 100 down 9.4%, and the Euro Stoxx 50 down 11.2%.
  • Asian indexes closed lower. China’s Shanghai Composite fell 1.5%, South Korea’s KOSPI slumped 3.9%, Japan’s Nikkei dropped 4.4%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 3.7%.
  • Oil prices fell, with West Texas Intermediate down 9% at about $30 a barrel and Brent crude down 9% at $32.60.
  • The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield slid to about 0.66%.
  • Bitcoin nosedived more than 25% to below $5,900.

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