Stocks open sharply lower; Dow 10% below recent record high

Damian J. Troise
Associated Press

New York – Stocks are opening sharply lower, extending a weeklong rout and bringing the Dow Jones Industrial Average 10% below the record high it hit two weeks ago.

Microsoft became the latest large company to warn investors about the virus’ potential hit to its finances. Meanwhile nations are taking increasingly drastic measures to try and contain the outbreak and the fears over the potential spread in the U.S. are rising.

Bond yields continued sliding in a further sign that investors were shifting money into lower-risk assets. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell further into record low territory, to 1.25% from 1.31% late Wednesday. Gold prices edged higher.

The S&P 500 slid 1.9% as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern time. The broad index is now on track for its worst week since November 2008, during the global financial crisis. The Nasdaq slid 2.3%.

Technology stocks again led the decline. Microsoft lost 2.8%. The software giant told investors that the virus will hurt revenue from its Windows licenses and its Surface devices.

American Airlines plunged 8.5% as airlines continue to feel pain from disrupted travel plans and suspended routes. Delta Airlines, which is reducing flights to South Korea because of the outbreak in that nation, fell 4.5%.

Financial warnings also came from Budweiser maker InBev and cloud-computing company Nutanix.

The virus has now infected more than 82,000 people globally and is worrying governments with its rapid spread beyond the epicenter of China.

In California, health officials say a new coronavirus case could be the first in the U.S. that has no known connection to travel abroad or another known case, a possible sign the virus is spreading in a community.

Japan will close schools nationwide to help control the spread of the new virus. Saudi Arabia banned foreign pilgrims from entering the kingdom to visit Islam’s holiest sites.

Italy has become the center of the outbreak in Europe, with the spread threatening the financial and industrial centers of that nation.

The price of crude oil fell 4.7%. The price has been falling sharply as investors anticipate that demand for energy will wane as the economy slows.

Several companies have managed to gain ground in the latest rout of stocks. Gilead Sciences, which is testing a potential vaccine for the virus, rose 3.8%. Teleconferencing company Teladoc surged 19.8%. 3M, which counts surgical masks among its many products, rose 1.5%.