U.S. stocks were battered yet again on Friday as global death toll continued to mount. Investors’ fears weren’t exactly addressed by the government’s stimulus measures to support the economy, which has been taking blows because of the coronavirus outbreak. This led stocks to end sharply lower on Mar 20 as investors continued with their selloff, their fears pushed by uncertainty around the disease’s further impact on the financial markets.
The three majorindices— the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite — closed in the red on Friday.The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 19,173.98 after losing 4.6%, the broader S&P 500 reached 2,304.92 after declining 4.3% and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite hit 6,879.52 after decreasing 3.8%.
The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined 9% to close at 66.04 on Mar 20. Finally, advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 2-to-1 ratio.
Government’s Economic Stimulus Measures
After more than 14,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus reported across the United States (per the data from Johns Hopkins University), lawmakers rushed to frame a second relief package which could cushion the impact of the virus on the economy and financial markets. In fact, stocks marked their worst week in the week ended Mar 20 since the 2008 financial crisis.
On Mar 20, President Donald Trump said during a press briefing that the federal government temporarily suspended all student loan payments (federally held). The president said that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos directed federal lenders to let borrowers suspend their student loan payments without penalty. This suspension will be affective for at least the next 60 days, and perhaps longer if necessary.
Apart from this, taxpayers were also offered relief by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Friday. Earlier last week, Mnuchin pushed the deadline for paying taxes from April 15 to July 15. The decision was put in place a day after Senate Democrats called on the Treasury Department to push the filing deadline.
Finally, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Mar 22 introduced a stimulus package that could cross $1 trillion. According to The Washington Post, The legislation would provide checks of $1,200 per adult for families and $500 for every child belonging to those families. The families filing jointly would receive up to $2,400 for the adults. The size of the checks would lessen for those earning more than $75,000 and won’t be on offer for those who earn more than $99,000.
U.S. Home Sales Hit 13-Year High
According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales climbed considerably in February. Total existing home sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops last month surged 6.5% from the month before.
Total existing home sales hit a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million units in February, which is the highest since February 2007. In addition, for the eighth straight month, overall sales rose on a year-over-year basis, rising 7.2% from February 2019’s 5.38 million. The median existing-home price for all types of housing was $270,100 last month. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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