Escalating fears over the deadly coronavirus have prompted a stock market sell-off, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging nearly 1,200 points at Thursday market close.
Major benchmark indexes tumbled into correction territory — a decline of at least 10% but no more than 20% — as the S&P 500 ended the day down 138 points and the Nasdaq Composite lost 414 points. This week alone, the Dow has dropped more than 3,000 points, putting it on track for its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.
Investors concerned about the global economy continued to panic over the spread of the illness, which has killed more than 2,800 people and sickened 82,500 worldwide. Outside the epicenter of China, new cases emerged this week in South Korea, Italy and Iran, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed yesterday the first possible “community spread” of the coronavirus in the United States.
In an address from the White House last night, President Donald Trump assured Americans that the threat of infection to the U.S. remains “very low.” He added that his administration has asked for $2.5 billion from Congress to assist with the coronavirus fight.
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“We closed up our borders from flights coming in from certain areas. A lot of people think we should not have done it that early, but it turned out to be a very good thing. Because of the decisions we made, the risk to the American people remains very low,” he said. “We’re ready to do whatever we have to do when, if it spreads. We’re very, very ready for this.”
With China responsible for producing the bulk of apparel, footwear and accessories sold around the world, many retailers and brands have braced for disruption to their global supply chains. Travel restrictions in the country have impeded manufacturing and production, with millions of workers delayed in returning to their factories and corporate offices.
Beyond such setbacks, some companies — including luxury names Burberry as well as Versace parent Capri Holdings and Gucci owner Kering — have opted to shutter their stores in heavily affected regions or cut back on their operating hours, leading to lower sales that are likely to dent their overall fiscal-year bottom lines.
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