Stocks on Wall Street fell sharply in early trading on Thursday, in the sixth straight day of losses for the S&P 500 as investors continued to react with fear to the spreading coronavirus outbreaks.
The latest wave of selling has come after public health officials in the United States and Germany said new patients in each country had no known connection to others with the illness. Cases of the virus have appeared in at least 47 countries.
The selling could push major benchmarks in the United States into a correction, a term used to indicate that an index is down more than 10 percent from its most recent high. Before trading began Thursday, the S&P 500 was down almost 8 percent from a record reached last week. The Dow Jones industrial average was down about 9.6 percent from its peak earlier in February.
Investors have been trying to assess the virus’s financial impact, fearing that its rapid spread outside China could threaten economic growth and corporate profits as companies restrict travel and factories in China remain shuttered. On Thursday, analysts at Goldman Sachs predicted that companies in the S&P 500 would generate no profit growth as a result of the crisis, because of a “severe decline in Chinese economic activity,” disruption in the supply chain for American companies and a slowdown in the United States economy.