February 29 (UPI) — U.S. stocks closed broadly lower friday, their biggest weekly drop since October 2008,media reported, as investors grew increasingly concerned that the spread of the new outbreak could cause serious damage to the global economy and supply chain.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 357.28 points, or 1.4 percent, to 25,409.36 on Friday, while the Standard and Poor’s 500 index fell 24.54 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,954.22. The Nasdaq composite rose just 0.89 points, or 0.01 percent, to 8,567.37.
U.S. technology stocks were mixed and far apart in Friday trading, with Apple closing down 0.06 percent at $273.36, Google parent Alphabet up 1.61 percent at $1,339.33 and Amazon down 0.03 percent at $1,883.75. Microsoft closed up 2.42 per cent at $162.01, Facebook closed up 1.43 per cent at $192.47, Netflix closed down 0.72 per cent at $369.03 and Tesla closed down 1.62 per cent at $667.99.
U.S. chip stocks were mixed, with chip leader Intel down 0.56 percent at $55.52, Qualcomm up 3.11 percent at $78.30 and Broadcom down 0.49 percent at $272.62. Texas Instruments closed up 0.89 percent at $114.14, Micron Technology closed up 3.91 percent at $52.56, Infinity Rose 6.92 percent to $270.07 and AMD rose 3.34 percent to $45.48.
All three major US benchmark indexes closed in the correction range on Thursday, down at least 10 per cent from their recent highs, but not more than 20 per cent.
For the week, the Dow is down 12.4 per cent, the Standard and Poor’s 500 index is down 11.5 per cent and the Nasdaq is down 10.5 per cent. In February, the Dow is down 10 percent, the Standard and Poor’s 500 is down 8.4 percent and the Nasdaq is down 6.4 percent.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a brief statement Friday afternoon that the central bank is “closely monitoring” the risk that the spread of the new coronavirus could lead to slower economic growth. The announcement sparked some optimism about investment, as the Fed’s interest rate cut would help boost the economy. U.S. stocks closed higher on the news.
Still, major U.S. stock indexes are under pressure to worry about the outbreak as investors try to bottom out this month’s losses.
“One of the biggest problems with this sell-off is probably that it happened at the end of the month,” Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist at Capitol Securities Management, an asset manager, said in an interview. I really think a lot of people don’t realize that something has gone wrong. The question is, what do people do when they see the February bill on March 1?
At present, despite increasingly robust national measures, new infections continue to increase, with New Zealand and Nigeria being the latest countries to report cases.
However, there are signs that some investors are returning to the market.
Diane Jaffee, senior portfolio manager at TCW, a leading asset manager, said: “What I’ve heard is that a lot of institutional money is not flowing in, but traders are buying in their own accounts. She noted that the signs of stabilization of the outbreak of new coronary pneumonia and the readiness of central banks are positive.
“I told investors to stay calm at this time because it was an opportunity,” she said. “
James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, speaks in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on Friday, US time. He said further interest rate cuts could be made if a global pandemic in the new coronary pneumonia outbreak does occur. Robert Kaplan, president of the Dallas Fed, also said Friday that he would be prepared to judge whether a rate cut was necessary when the Fed’s interest rate committee meets again on March 17-18.