Dow falls 500 points to start second quarter as Trump warns of ‘very painful two weeks’

By Fred Imbert

Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday as Wall Street begins the second quarter on a sour note amid mounting concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 534 points lower, or 2.4%. The S&P 500 slid 2.7% while the Nasdaq Composite lost 2.1%.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday evening the U.S. should prepare for a “very, very painful two weeks” from the rampant coronavirus. White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 virus deaths in the U.S.

“This is going to be a rough two-week period,” Trump said at a White House press conference. “When you look at night the kind of death that has been caused by this invisible enemy, it’s incredible.”

Data from ADP and Moody’s Analytics showed U.S. companies cut 27,000 jobs through March 12. Actual losses for the month were far worse, as shown by the record number of jobless claims in the week or March 20. Meanwhile, ISM manufacturing index fell to 49.1 in March from 50.1 in February, signaling a contraction in U.S. manufacturing activity amid the pandemic.

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