The Latest: Stock futures signal more losses in US markets

Business

A man wearing a protective face mask walks by the investment icon bull statue on display outside an office building in Beijing, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday despite gains on Wall Street on hopes the Trump administration will act to cushion the economic pain of the virus outbreak. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the action in the financial markets (all times local):

10:10 p.m.

Stock futures are pointing to more losses in U.S. stock markets Thursday after President Donald Trump delivered a speech on the coronavirus outbreak that appeared to disappoint investors.

Futures for the S&P 500 moved from a loss of 0.4% just before Trump spoke from the Oval Office at 9 p.m. EST to a loss of 3.3% an hour later. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were showing a drop of 3.5%.

The declines in the futures markets follow steep losses in regular trading Wednesday as investors become increasingly worried that responses from government and central banks will be insufficient to prevent the outbreak from severely impacting the global economy. The Dow’s drop of 1,464 points dragged it 20% below the record set last month and put the index in a bear market.

Trump announced actions designed to ease the economic cost of the outbreak including unspecified aid for workers impacted by the virus, a deferment of tax payments for some individuals and businesses and low-interest loans for small businesses.

Megan Greene, senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, said she was “underwhelmed by these measures.’’

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3:30 p.m.

The stock market’s latest skid may be a tempting reason to make big changes to an investment portfolio or 401(k) plan, but ordinary investors may be better off taking a more cautious approach, market strategists say.

Most experts advise investors to focus more on long-term goals and pay less attention to short-term swings, which are expected to continue until there is evidence that the coronavirus outbreak is slowing.

“This feeling of whiplash that people feel probably continues for some period of time,” said Patrick Schaffer, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

Long-term investors should review their stock portfolio and ensure that it is structured to fit their needs and that it reflects the amount of risk they are comfortable with, Schaffer said.

Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA, advises investors to focus on health care stocks and companies that sell essential household goods. He also recommends companies that have had a consistent history of raising earnings and dividends over the last 10 years.

“We’re pretty much saying stick with stocks,” he said.

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1:27 p.m.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has given back its gain from Tuesday as fears about the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak continue to grip Wall Street.

As of 1:27, the Dow had fallen 1,165 points, or 4.7%, after rising 1,167 points a day before. Boeing, McDonald’s, Visa and Apple were the biggest drags on the index. All 30 components of the Dow are in the red Wednesday.

If the Dow closes with a loss of 1,000 points — or a gain given the dramatic intraday moves the market has seen — it would be the seventh such move since the stocks hit their most recent high on Feb. 19. Before then, the Dow had only rose or fell 1,000 points three other times in history, all in 2018.

Granted, swings of 1,000 points aren’t as dramatic given the high levels of the market. The biggest percentage move in the Dow remains the 22.6% drop on Black Monday in 1987. As far as points go, the move was just 508.

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12:30 p.m.

There is a smattering of green amid all that red on Wall Street.

Gilead Science is among the leaders in the S&P 500 Wednesday with a gain of 3.3% around midday. Gilead’s stock is higher on reports that an experimental COVID-19 treatment is already being used in Washington state.

The company’s remdesivir is reportedly being used under a “compassionate use” provision, which allows for experimental treatments to be used for patients in dire need. The drug was initially developed to treat Ebola and is now in human studies for COVID-19.

T-Mobile, Charles Schwab and CDW Corp. are also among the handful of gainers in the S&P 500.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals shares are the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 so far in 2020 with a gain of 24.7%. The company and partner Sanofi hope to soon test an existing drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19, according to the Wall Street Journal. Regeneron shares are down 1.5% Wednesday.

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11:40 a.m.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs predict the longest-ever bull market for stocks will soon end, citing expectations of weaker company profits this year.

The analysts lowered their 2020 earnings forecast for S&P 500 companies Wednesday for the second time in less than two weeks.

They now expect profits will be down 5% from 2019. The analysts believe the sharp slide in oil prices and interest rates will hinder profit growth for energy companies and banks. The price of U.S. benchmark oil is down 45% so far this year, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury has dropped to around 0.8% percent from 1.9% at the start of 2020.

Goldman notes that companies in other sectors are also likely to report weaker profits this year. Many companies, such as Hilton and United Airlines, have already lowered or withdrawn their 2020 earnings guidance.

The analysts’ forecast calls for the S&P 500 to be at 2,450 points by midyear, which would mark a 28% decline from the peak in February. At 11:30 a.m. EST Wednesday, the index was down 3.8% to 2,771 amid volatile trading on Wall Street. The current bull market began in March 2009.

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11:25 a.m.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a top priority for the Trump administration is to provide support for businesses that have been adversely affected by disruptions from the virus.

Testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee, Mnuchin said the administration was looking to increase lending by the Small Business Administration “dramatically” to help small and medium-sized business.

Mnuchin said the administration was also exploring ways to provide support to airlines, cruise ship lines, hotels and other businesses in the travel industry that have been hurt by a sharp drop in travel. Those industries have been among the biggest losers in the recent sell-off on Wall Street.

He said the administration was also working with Congress to find ways to reimburse workers who lose days off work because they are sick or are staying home to self-quarantine.

The stock market is waiting to hear details of the administration’s plan to shore up the economy in the face of the threat from the virus. The lack of a formal plan is contributing to the wild swings on Wall Street this week.

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10:35 a.m.

There’s no end in sight to the turbulence in the stock market.

Investors were experiencing the latest twist Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 900 points, or 3.7%, after an hour of trading. That follows the biggest loss since 2008 on Monday and a significant rebound Tuesday.

If the Dow closes with a loss of 1,000 points — or a gain given the dramatic intraday moves the market has seen — it would be the seventh such move since the stocks hit their most recent high on Feb. 19. Before then, the Dow had only rose or fell 1,000 points three other times in history, all in 2018.

Granted, swings of 1,000 points aren’t as dramatic given the high levels of the market. The biggest percentage move in the Dow remains the 22.6% drop on Black Monday in 1987. As far as points go, the move was just 508.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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