Fed boost fails to stem Wall Street rout

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s slide deepened on Monday as the rapidly spreading coronavirus forced more U.S. states into lockdown, eclipsing optimism from an aggressive policy easing by the Federal Reserve and putting the S&P 500 on pace for its worst month since World War Two.

After cutting interest rates to near zero and offering to buy more Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, the Fed will now lend against student loans and credit card loans, as well as back the purchase of corporate bonds and direct loans to companies.

The extraordinary moves briefly lifted U.S. stock index futures more than 3%, but the mounting death toll from COVID-19 and growing evidence of the economic damage to Corporate America quickly sent the main indexes back into the red.

“It’s their bazooka moment, which should be a sign to investors that the Fed will provide any and all liquidity necessary to support the economy through this period,” said Russell Price, chief economist at Ameriprise Financial Service in, Troy, Michigan.

“But quite frankly, the market is just in a waiting period right now until the virus runs its course and some of the therapies and other treatments are able to improve outcomes.”

Investors had hoped the U.S. Senate would clear a $1 trillion-plus coronavirus stimulus package over the weekend, but Democrats and Republicans were still scrambling to come to an agreement.

Ohio, Louisiana and Delaware have now joined New York and California in asking people to stay home, foreshadowing a near halt in economic activity and more pain for U.S. equities, which have already lost more than $9 trillion in value since a record high hit last month.

Goldman Sachs expects an outright contraction in global real GDP in 2020 on the back of a 24% plunge in U.S. real GDP in the second quarter: two-and-a-half times as large as the previous post-war record.

At 11:49 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 908.45 points, or 4.74%, at 18,265.53, while the S&P 500 .SPX was down 107.63 points, or 4.67%, at 2,197.29 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 234.88 points, or 3.41%, at 6,644.63.

The energy sector .SPNY fell 5%, tracking a plunge in oil prices. [O/R]

Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) were among the biggest drags on the Dow .DJI.

Hasbro (HAS.O) rose 10.84% after the toy maker’s Chief Executive Officer Brian Goldner said its supply chains were up and running in China.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers more than 5-to-1 on the NYSE and 3-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and 195 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded two new highs and 401 new lows.

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