Stocks on Wall Street ended the first quarter of 2020 down 20 per cent, the market’s worst quarter since the dark days of the financial crisis.
The loss for the S&P 500 in March alone was 12.5 per cent, as the surging coronavirus pandemic pushed investors to flee the market.
Stocks did claw back some of those losses this week thanks to massive aid packages from the Federal Reserve and Congress to shore up the economy and markets, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average nevertheless closed down 400 points, or more than 1.5 per cent, on Tuesday at 21,927 points.
It was the worst first-quarter finish in the Dow’s 135-year history.
Earlier in the day, global markets initially rose following a stronger-than-expected report on China’s economy.
The surge of coronavirus cases around the world has sent markets into breathtaking drops since mid-February, undercutting what had been a good start to the year due to calming trade wars and low interest rates around the world.
The benchmark price of US crude oil, which has dropped by approximately two-thirds this quarter, hit its lowest level since 2002 on Monday on expectations of a dramatic drop in demand. It recovered slightly on Tuesday.
This coming Friday sees the release of the latest US jobs report — expected to show a sharp drop in payrolls. Companies’ first quarter earnings will also be reported in the coming weeks.
We looked at the Dow’s top 15 worst first quarters in history.
On average, the Dow managed to pare most of the Q1 losses during the rest of the year, but it tends to still finish the year in the red, with a median annual loss of 3.5%. @CNBCPro
https://t.co/x2QWY7GPso pic.twitter.com/nufll50UOk— Yun Li (@YunLi626)March 31, 2020
The numbers may get even worse, with Goldman Sachs economists saying on Tuesday that they expect the US economy to shrink by 34% in the second quarter. They expect growth to rebound in the third quarter.
With no sign of a peak in the number of cases of, or deaths from, coronavirus, and with much of the US and large parts of the world on lockdown, it is difficult to conceive what the overall impact on the economy, jobs and markets will be.
With reporting by the Associated Press