NEW YORK – Most of Wall Street wilted Thursday on worries that the economy's recent improvements may be set to fade as novel coronavirus cases keep climbing.
The S&P 500 lost 0.6%, with three in four stocks within the index falling. The sharpest drops hit oil companies, airlines and other stocks whose fortunes are most closely tied to a reopening and strengthening economy. Treasury yields also sank in another sign of increased caution.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 361.19 points, or 1.4%, to 25,706.09, while the 17.89-point fall for the S&P 500, to 3,152.05, was just its second loss in eight days.
Smaller stocks sank more than the rest of the market, which often happens when investors are downgrading their expectations for the economy. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks lost 28.48, or 2%, to 1,398.92.
The Nasdaq composite was an outlier, as investors continue to bet big tech-oriented stocks can keep growing almost regardless of the economy's strength. It added 55.25, or 0.5%, to 10,547.75 and hit another record.
“The broad equity market is navigating through a zone of uncertainty,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
“There are ample reasons for caution,” he said. “Clearly there's uncertainty surrounding the impact and duration of this virus.”