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US: Dow ends session 12.9% down as virus slams economy

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Wall Street stocks had their worst day since 1987 on Monday, joining the global market carnage as the coronavirus outbreak shut down a widening part of the US and global economy.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks had their worst day since 1987 on Monday, joining the global market carnage as the coronavirus outbreak shut down a widening part of the US and global economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 12.9 per cent, or nearly 3,000 points, at 20,188.52.

The broad-based S&P 500 dove 12.0 per cent to 2,386.13, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 12.3 per cent to 6,904.59.

The losses were the most substantial since worries over a coronavirus-induced recession became the market's preoccupation over the last three weeks or so.

President Donald Trump, for the first time, said the US economy "may be" heading into a recession, acknowledging an outcome that an increasing number of economists are expecting.

"The market will take care of itself," Mr Trump told reporters at a briefing. "The market will be very strong as soon as we get rid of the virus."

Monday's dreary session came after the Federal Reserve announced a series of emergency measures Sunday night, including lowering interest rates to a range of 0-0.25 per cent, where they were during the 2008 global financial crisis, and removing reserve requirements to allow banks to use cash backstops to meet unexpected funding needs.

"There is a pyramid of uncertainty," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist for Prudential Financial. "And the markets are responding to that."

Boeing, encumbered by the crises over the grounding of the 737 MAX and a major slowdown in air travel, led the Dow lower, shedding a whopping 23.8 per cent.

Other big losers included Chevron, Intel, Home Depot, McDonald's and UnitedHealth Group, all of which fell by more than 15 per cent.

But the session did include some winners, including Clorox, which jumped 4.1 per cent amid strong demand for cleaning supplies and Kroger, which advanced 1.3 per cent as more consumer throng to supermarket to stock up.

AFP