Before The Bell - After a slight early rise yesterday morning and a rapid, albeit modest dip, the stock market strengthened further as the morning progressed, so that as we hit the noon hour, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up just over 1,000 points. That comeback, following a prior-session Dow plunge of 2,997 points, came after the President announced new stimulus measures. Prior to that late-morning surge, the Dow had dipped below 20,000 for the first time since February of 2017.
Meanwhile, investors have remained jittery, with Monday's meltdown occasioned by the President's remarks that the deadly coronavirus could be with us until July or August and that we could well fall into a recession while trying to fight that fast-spreading illness. Looking out over the market these past three weeks, the carnage has been monumental, with the blue chip index falling from the doorstep of 30,000 to, as noted, just below 20,000. The story has been similar for the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ.
Regarding the surge into the noon hour, it transpired as the White House detailed its aggressive plans to combat the business reversals likely to be brought on by the coronavirus. Among the measures indicated by the Administration will be the sending of emergency funds to Americans as the crisis drags on. The Federal Reserve, which is meeting today and tomorrow, announced measures to help companies struggling to get short-term funding amid the outbreak.
Meanwhile, after the market rallied to about a 1,200-point recovery in the Dow just after noon in New York, the sellers massed and took about half of that gain back over the next half hour. Still as we neared the 1:00 PM (EDT) hour, the market continued to show nice overall improvement, led by shares of Amazon (AMZN) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN), with the latter seeing its stock jump on hopes for the development of a virus vaccine over the coming months.
The market then would spend the remainder of the session in the green, with Dow ahead mostly between 500 points and 1,200 points. Even better than the performance by the blue chips, which would rise by 5.2% in the day, the S&P 500 Index and the NASDAQ would climb by 6.0% and 6.2%, respectively. The Russell 2000, meantime, would surge by 6.7%. Among the Dow leaders would be shares of Intel (INTC), with the giant chipmaker rising by more than 12%. In all that index would gain 1,049 points on the day.
After the close, however, and into the evening, the futures would reverse course and be off rather sharply, as investors no doubt contemplate the massive toll that fighting this disease will take on the nation's economy. Clearly, a recession is on the way and unemployment will only jump. As to the futures at this hour, the trend suggests that the market will open sharply to the downside, as concerns linger about the government's response to the coronavirus. – Harvey S. Katz, CFA