The New York Stock Exchange ended in red Tuesday the worst quarter since 1987 for the Dow Jones and since 2008 for the S&P 500, while the coronavirus pandemic continues to haunt investors.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.84% to end at 21,917.16 points, which represents a drop of 13.7% over the month and 23% since the beginning of the year.
Over the quarter, the flagship Wall Street index was weighed down by the fall of some of its flagship values, starting with the aircraft manufacturer Boeing (-54%) or the oil major Chevron (-46%).
The broader S&P 500, which represents the 500 largest companies on Wall Street, fell 1.60% on Tuesday to close at 2,584.69 points. It is thus down 12.5% in March, 20% since the beginning of 2020.
The highly technological Nasdaq fell Tuesday by 0.95% to 7,700.10 points. Its decline, of 10% over the month, of 14% over the quarter, is less pronounced.
However, the clues had started the session in the green before hesitating, then sinking as the closing approached.
For Karl Haeling of LBBW, no specific news justified a priori this jagged development, except that investors were perhaps expecting more pronounced portfolio adjustments at the end of this quarter.
“The trend will probably be dominated in the coming days by estimates of the duration of the pandemic,” he said. “We could, it seems, see the economy really resume its activity two weeks after a substantial drop in new cases. All this is subject to interpretation,” notes Mr. Haeling.
What seems to be in no doubt in the eyes of investors, however, is the fact that the American economy has entered a recession. The question is to what extent the actions taken by the government and the central bank will help mitigate their effects and limit their duration.
Worldwide, more than 3.6 billion people, or 46.5% of the population, are called or forced by their authorities to remain confined to their homes, according to an AFP count.
More than 820,000 cases of infection have been diagnosed in 185 countries and territories since the virus appeared in December in China, and the disease has killed more than 40,000.
– Resumption of activity in China –
On the positive side, however, China reported unexpected recovery in manufacturing and services activity in March, and oil prices stabilized after hitting their lowest level in 18 years on Monday.
Today's US indicators were mixed.
Economic activity in the Chicago area thus remained in recession in March for the ninth month in a row, but less markedly than expected by analysts.
Similarly, consumer confidence in the United States deteriorated sharply in March due to the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the Conference Board index released on Tuesday, but less than expected.
Among the values of the day, the Conagra food group took 3.93%. On the occasion of the publication of its results for the fiscal quarter ending on February 23, the company underlined to have noted “an increased demand in its sales to the private individuals related to the pandemic of Covid-19” and consequently estimated that it would exceed its forecasts for the whole fiscal year.
On the bond market, the 10-year rate on the US debt fell slightly, and moved to 0.663% against 0.726% Monday at the close.