UPDATED with trading floor news, market close:
The NYSE announced Wednesday afternoon that the floor of the New York Stock Exchange would be closed starting Monday to adhere to guidelines on large gatherings. Trading will continue electronically. Most systems are already electronic.
There have been calls to halt trading entirely as the market endures staggering losses but officials stressed that the trading floor closures was not about that. CNBC said the closure was in part as a result of a positive coronavirus
test of a trader who works at the NYSE. The exchange this week had begun medical testing of entrants to the Big Board.
The DJIA closed down 1,200 points, or 6.3% Wednesday, off its lows after a roller coaster session and one pundit wondered if Tom Hanks could spread some cheer.
Amid reports of new infections and a rising death toll from the coronavirus, people are looking mainly for news of promising treatments, said investment advisor and CNBC commentator Joshua Brown of Ritholtz Weath Management. He suggested on the network that we need news of recoveries and that President Trump “should ask Tom Hanks to go on prime time television and talk about his experience being released from the hospital.”
Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were released from a hospital in Queensland, Australia Monday and were in self-quarantine. On Tuesday he tweeted, “”Hey folks. Good News: One week after testing Positive, in self-isolation, the symptoms are much the same,” Hanks wrote in the caption of a photo showing his antique Corona typewriter. “No fever but the blahs. Folding the laundry and doing the dishes leads to a nap on the couch.”
Sinking stocks triggered circuit breaker and a trading halt mid-afternoon, a rare event that’s happened twice this week. Some pundits wondered if investors were close to reaching “peak fear” and the selling pressure might about. Others said the situation in the market has gone way beyond that – people are now selling stocks for cash they think they’ll need to to live on with millions expected to become unemployed.
Stocks fell at the open Wednesday dashing hopes of a sustained rally following a welcome uptick the day before.
Despite a range of economic measures for well over $1 trillion proposed Tuesday by the Trump administration, the Dow Jones futures had plunged in Wednesday’s pre-market session, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures, hitting the “limit down” circuit breaker, dashing hopes raised by Tuesday’s 5.2% gain in the DJIA.
At opening, the index fell 6% or about 1,200 points as momentary optimism was crushed by the relentless march of the virus across the country and the world.
The number of infections doubled internationally over the last two weeks, continuing to fuel fears of a global recession. The death toll in the U.S. hit 114 with over 6,400 cases overnight as testing rolls out.. Last night, West Virginia became the 50th state to report cases.
In a surreal moment in Chicago, three technicians at Midway International Airport tested positive for the virus, shutting down the air traffic control tower and causing cancellations of scores of flights Wednesday morning.
While much stock talk revolves around Boeing and a rescue for the hard hit airlines, media stocks continue to be squeezed. Disney and ViacomCBS were down over 6%.
A Monday winners like Comcast was down 5%.
Netflix was down nearly 2%.
Exhibition continues to take the most direct hit in the media sectors as theaters close across the country. AMC Entertainment was down 14%, Cinemark 9%, Imax 4%.