Stocks Continue to Tumble on Coronavirus Concerns

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.

  • Updated Feb. 26, 2020

    • What is a coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all nonessential travel to South Korea and China.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world was not ready for a major outbreak.

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.

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