Stocks whipsaw after Fed cuts rates to counter virus effects

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks whipped up and down Tuesday after the Federal Reserve swooped into the market with an emergency interest-rate cut in hopes of shielding the economy from the effects of the fast-spreading virus.

The market shot higher after the surprise announcement, which was the first time the Fed cut rates outside of a regularly scheduled meeting since the 2008 financial crisis. The gains evaporated within 15 minutes, then indexes bounced higher, then lower. By late morning major U.S. indexes were down 1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had jumped 5% Monday to its best day in more than a decade on rising anticipation for aid from the Fed and other central banks.

The Fed has a long history of coming to the market's rescue with lower rates and other stimuli, which has helped this bull market in U.S. stocks become the longest in history. Analysts said the Fed's latest cut should provide more confidence to a market dominated by uncertainty about how much economic damage the virus will do.

“Confidence in markets is crucial,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “Without confidence, you don’t have a market.”

Doubts are still high about whether the medicine provided by central banks can be as effective this time around. Lower rates can encourage shoppers and businesses to borrow and spend more, but they can't reopen factories that have been shut or recall workers out due to quarantines. Companies across continents and industries have already said they expect their earnings to take a hit as supply chains are disrupted and customers are scared away from stores.

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Traders work in front of a board displaying the chart of Germany's share index DAX at the stock exchange in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on February 28, 2020. - Stock markets plunged further Friday, February 28, 2020, with equities on course for the largest weekly drop since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago on fears that the coronavirus could devastate the world economy, while oil prices tanked as well. (Photo by Daniel ROLAND / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP via Getty Images)
28 February 2020, Hessen, Frankfurt/Main: An exchange trader at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange looks at his monitors. The most important German leading index, the Dax, fell by more than 5 percent in the morning. Concerns about a corona epidemic have been weighing on financial markets worldwide for days. Photo: Boris Roessler/dpa (Photo by Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. - Tokyo's key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent at the open on February 28 after US and European sell-offs with investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. - Tokyo's key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent at the open on February 28 after US and European sell-offs with investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. - Tokyo's key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent at the open on February 28 after US and European sell-offs with investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. - Tokyo's key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent at the open on February 28 after US and European sell-offs with investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 27: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on February 27, 2020 in New York City. With concerns growing about how the coronavirus might affect the economy, stocks fell for the fourth straight day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 1200 points on Thursday. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)
Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. - Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. - Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. - Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. - Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. - Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. - Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
The TSE Arrows market centre is seen at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in Tokyo on February 26, 2020. - Tokyo stocks opened lower on February 26 extending losses on Wall Street, as the coronavirus continued to spread and public officials warned of the increasing likelihood of a pandemic. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
A pedestrian stands in front of an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Nikkei 225 Index in Tokyo on February 26, 2020. - Tokyo stocks opened lower on February 26 extending losses on Wall Street, as the coronavirus continued to spread and public officials warned of the increasing likelihood of a pandemic. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 25: Pedestrians wearing face masks walk past a monitor displaying the Nikkei 225 index and other financial figures outside a securities firm on February 25 in Tokyo, Japan. The Nikkei index dropped more than 3.5 percent at the open on Monday as global concerns grow about the economic impact of the Coronavirus. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 25: Traders work through the closing minutes of trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange floor on February 25, 2020 in New York City. Fueled by deepening concerns of the Coronavirus becoming a global pandemic, the stock market plunged Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing almost 900 points. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 299 points, or 1.2%, at 26,393, as of 11:18 a.m. Eastern time. It was down as many as 356 points shortly after trading opened, only to swing to a gain of 381 points after the Fed's announcement before moderating.

The S&P 500 was down 0.9%, and the Nasdaq was down 0.8%. European stock markets were broadly higher. Asian markets were also generally strong, though Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.2%.

Bond yields swung following the Fed's announcement. The yield on the two-year Treasury, which moves on anticipation of Fed actions, fell to 0.75% from 0.81% late Monday. The 10-year yield, which also moves on expectations for economic growth and inflation, dropped to 1.05% from 1.08%.

Earlier in the day, the Group of Seven major industrialized countries pledged support for the global economy but stopped short of announcing any specific new measures. Then the Fed surpised markets with its announcement of the steep, half-point rate cut at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

The G-7, which includes the U.S., Japan and Germany, among others, made its statement after weeks of warnings from companies that the virus will hit their finances. Economic groups have also warned of worsening forecasts for global economic growth.

Payments processor Visa is among the latest companies warning investors. It expects first-quarter revenue to suffer because of the damage to international travel. Chipmaker Microchip Technology withdrew its profit forecast for the year because of the uncertainty surrounding the virus’ impact.

Worldwide, more than 90,000 people have been sickened and 3,100 have died. The number of countries hit by the virus has reached at least 70, with Ukraine and Morocco reporting their first cases.

U.S. markets have been hit hard by fear over the virus’ impact. Stocks surged on Monday over hopes that central banks will help shield the global economy. That followed a broad sell-off last week that erased gains for 2020 and sent indexes into what market watchers call a "correction," or a fall of 10% or more from a peak.

Several companies reported earnings as the latest round of quarterly reports nears its end. Kohl’s edged higher after it raised its dividend following a surprisingly good fourth quarter. Auto parts retailer AutoZone slipped after reporting a surprising drop for a key sales measure.

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