Stocks – Wall Street Tumbles at Opening on Virus Fears; Dow Down 760 Pts

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By Geoffrey Smith — U.S. stocks were back on the roller-coaster at opening on Thursday, the falling over 700 points as fears about the spread of the coronavirus returned.

The Federal Reserve’s emergency rate cut, the approval of an $8.3 billion spending bill for measures to tackle the virus in the U.S., and the supposedly market-friendly outcome of the Democratic primaries on ‘Super Tuesday’ were all quickly forgotten as more and more countries adopted travel restrictions and other emergency measures to contain the outbreak.

By 9:53 AM ET (1453 GMT), the Dow was down 764 points or 2.8%, while the S&P 500 was down 2.7% and the fell 2.4%.

Airline stocks were once again in the thick of things, after a global industry body nearly quadrupled its estimate of how much the sector could lose in revenue this year due to the disease to $113 billion from $29 billion.

The International Air Travel Association said revenue losses at North American airlines could hit over $21 billion, while European airlines could lose double that.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:) stock fell 5.0% after it warned of a $300 million hit to revenue in the first quarter alone.

American Airlines (NASDAQ:) stock, meanwhile, fell 7.8% and Delta Air Lines (NYSE:) stock fell 5.5%, while United Airlines stock 7.6% and JetBlue stock fell 8.2%.

The shockwaves continued to pass through the rest of the travel sector, with traditional players such as hotel operator Marriott falling 4.6% and newer players such as Booking (NASDAQ:).com falling 4.7%.

On the upside, Zoom Video Communications stock rose 2.4%, bouncing from premarket losses of over 7%, as more people placed bets on a boom in remote meetings as a result of the collapse in business travel due to the virus.

Elsewhere, futures lost early gains amid doubts that OPEC can persuade Russia to sign up to a new output cut of 1.5 million barrels a day, while roared higher on a fresh wave of flows into haven assets. Gold for delivery on the Comex exchange was up 1.0% at $1,658.65 an ounce.

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