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Why Is the Stock Market Tanking Today?

Update

At market close on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.4%, or more than 940 points, while the S&P 500 tanked 3.5%, or nearly 120 points, and the Nasdaq Composite decreased 3.7%, or almost 430 points.

What We Reported (Oct. 28, 2020, 3:20 p.m. ET)

Fears of renewed lockdowns, the lack of a stimulus bill and the upcoming election have sent the stock market into a downward spiral during Wednesday trading.

As of 3:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 3%, or nearly 840 points. The S&P 500 dropped 3%, or about 100 points, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 3%, or 345 points. European markets also closed in the red — with Britain’s FTSE sinking 2.6%, Germany’s DAX tumbling 4.2% and France’s CAC 40 dipping 3.4% — while oil and emerging market currencies declined.

Investors have expressed concerns over the resurgent COVID-19 outbreak, which has already led some governments to impose or consider new restrictions. In the United States, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered Chicago to shut down indoor dining once again starting Friday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the number of cases have hit an all-time high, with a seven-day average of 71,832 as of Tuesday. Data from The COVID Tracking Project also showed that coronavirus-related hospitalizations were up 5% or more in three dozen states.

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Abroad, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the country would enter a four-week lockdown of restaurants, bars, theaters and other public facilities beginning on Monday, while French President Emmanuel Macron is considering a shutdown after the country reported an average of more than 38,700 new cases of the illness per day over the past week.

What’s more, Senate leaders left the Capitol on a break early this week. That means it is now practically impossible that a stimulus deal will be passed by Election Day on Nov. 3 — despite three months of negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who were unable to secure a second package to provide financial aid to American individuals, businesses and states amid the pandemic. Without action to extend temporary relief, millions of unemployed people in the U.S. could lose their jobless benefits at the end of the year.

This week also marks a big earnings period for retailers: Shoe titans Crocs and Steve Madden reported third-quarter financial results yesterday, while Kate Spade parent Tapestry, Columbia Sportswear and Ugg owner Deckers are among the major fashion players posting their own sales figures tomorrow. In addition, e-commerce behemoth Amazon is expected to post earnings on Thursday afternoon.

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