This briefing is no longer updating. Coverage of Friday’s markets can be found here.
Markets nose-dived as virus outbreaks multiplied.
The stock market has swung wildly in the past week as investors have struggled to get a bead on the economic damage the fast spreading coronavirus might cause, as the number of cases continues to rise and companies step up measures to contain them.
That jarring volatility continued on Thursday, with the S&P 500 falling more than 3 percent. The index has now climbed or fallen more than 3 percent on six different days in the past two weeks, something that had not happened even once in the prior 12 months.
The drop continued in Asia in morning trading on Friday, with stocks in Tokyo down more than 3 percent. Shares in Hong Kong were down more than 2 percent.
Shares of airlines plunged and industrial, financial and energy stocks also fell sharply. Worry about long-term growth also pushed the yield on 10-year United States Treasury notes to a new low. Because of their relative safety, government bonds are in high demand during bouts of panic over the economy.
After markets closed on Thursday, Starbucks warned that its quarterly same-store sales in China, where it has a huge presence, would fall 50 percent compared to last year, resulting in a $400 million to $430 million hit to its revenue forecast.
News about the coronavirus’s spread has been relentless: A cruise ship being held off the coast of San Francisco has suspected links to two coronavirus cases, one of them fatal. The governor of California declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, and 18 states have infected patients.
Around the world, more than 90,000 cases and 3,000 deaths have been reported.
The jump in the number of cases in the United States has crystallized expectations that the crisis will last longer than earlier predictions suggested. And without the kind of full-court-press efforts that China staged to guard against the virus’s spread, some analysts worried that infections could expand widely.
Economists at the Institute of International Finance slashed their outlook for the global economy on Thursday, downgrading their 2020 forecast for the growth in the United States to 1.3 percent that in China to below 4 percent. The revisions could “conceivably” take global growth to 1 percent, the weakest since 2009, said the chief economist, Robin Brooks, and down from 2.6 percent last year.
“The concern is that almost nothing has been done to stop the spread of the virus in the U.S. and Europe,” said Ilya Feygin, managing director at the institutional brokerage firm WallachBeth.
Policymakers have responded by cutting interest rates to prop up economic growth. They are expected to do so again, but the sell-off reflects in part the fact that lower interest rates will not address the immediate impact of the virus if factories are closed, workers are furloughed and consumers stop spending.
“With the daily infection rate escalating it is doubtful that rate cuts will be particularly effective in limiting the immediate downdrafts on economic activity,” Rob Subbaraman, head of global macro research at Nomura, warned in a research note on Thursday — two days after the Federal Reserve announced an emergency interest rate cut.
Also on Thursday, the International Air Transport Association substantially expanded its forecast for the financial damage that could result from travel bans and customers’ reluctance to fly, saying that $63 billion to $113 billion in annual global airline revenue could be wiped out.
United Airlines and American Airlines both fell more than than 13 percent, while Delta fell about 7 percent.
Oil producers are looking for a large cut to production as demand softens.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries proposed Thursday that oil output be curbed by 1.5 million barrels a day to deal with the effects of the spreading coronavirus outbreak on demand.
The proposed cuts are more than most analysts expected but seem unlikely to change the gloomy sentiment in the oil market. After the announcement, prices for Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell about 0.8 percent to $50.71 a barrel.
The impact on airlines is ‘almost without precedent.’
The coronavirus could wipe out $63 billion to $113 billion in annual global airline revenue this year, the International Air Transport Association said Thursday.
As carriers around the world halt flights and tourism sputters in the face of spreading outbreaks, the financial impact on the airline industry will be “almost without precedent,” said Alexandre de Juniac, the president of the association.
The low-end $63 billion figure is more than double the estimate that I.A.T.A. put out just two weeks ago. Since the outbreak began, industry share prices have fallen almost 25 percent, or about five times more than during the 2003 SARS crisis, according to the group.
“As governments look to stimulus measures, the airline industry will need consideration for relief,” Mr. de Juniac said, specifically citing taxes, charges and airport runway rules. “These are extraordinary times.”
On Wednesday, United Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to announce a widespread cut to domestic service. Southwest Airlines on Thursday said it expected the plunging demand to cost it $200 million to $300 million in the first quarter of this year.
Costco puts limits on Lysol, water and more.
As consumers stockpile products like disinfectants and canned goods, some Costco locations have started setting purchase limits on high-demand items.
Richard A. Galanti, chief financial officer of Costco, said the restrictions were being placed generally on a regional basis as the chain scrambled to keep pace with demand from its members.
“It’s really dependent on supply availability in areas where there’s been a run on those types of items, whether it’s paper goods, water or hand sanitizers, soaps and the like,” Mr. Galanti said in an interview on Thursday.
When asked whether the rush compared to periods before hurricanes or other events, Mr. Galanti said it was “completely different.”
“The last week and a half would be a bit unusual,” he said. “We’re busy trying to get merchandise and continuing to keep things in stock and that’s been a challenge.”
The coronavirus ads have begun.
Skittish consumers searching for details about the coronavirus are being targeted with ads spouting unsupported claims that face masks and other products can protect against the outbreak.
This week, the Advertising Standards Authority, a British regulator, declared several face mask ads to be misleading. One set of ads, served up on news sites like The Scottish Sun and CNN, tried to drum up demand using “alarmist language.” Another ad appeared on Amazon’s British site.
Searching for “coronavirus” on Amazon pulls up more than 1,000 results, including vitamins, safety glasses, gloves and canine testing kits, but also generates a prompt at the top of the search page that links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many companies are trying to keep their ads away from content related to the outbreak. YouTube demonetized videos that mention coronavirus.
Last month, the technology company Integral Ad Science blocked the “coronavirus” keyword 38.4 million times, making it the second most blocked term online in February behind “Trump.” Some 90 percent of the companies that work with CHEQ, an ad fraud prevention company, have asked that their ads be kept away from news stories about the virus and the increasing death toll.
Workplaces begin coping with the virus.
At Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, a worker has tested positive for the virus. In a message to employees on Wednesday night, Amazon said it was recommending that all employees in the Seattle region work from home this month if their jobs can be done remotely.
Facebook said on Wednesday that a contractor working in the company’s Seattle offices had tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, making it the second major tech company in the city to be affected by the outbreak.
On Thursday, HSBC, one of the world’s largest financial firms, said that an employee at its global headquarters in London had received a coronavirus diagnosis. The employee is under medical supervision and has self-isolated. The office, where nearly 10,000 people work, remains open.
“We are deep-cleaning the floor where our colleague worked and shared areas of the building,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Other companies are escalating their efforts to protect employees. Twitter, Ford Motor and numerous others have banned all nonessential travel. Walmart said on Thursday that its employees could travel internationally only for “business-critical trips” and that it was restricting their travel to conferences and trade shows within the United States.
And at CNN, which is based in Atlanta and has employees all over the world, the chief executive has begun personally vetting all intercontinental travel.
Reporting was contributed by David Yaffe-Bellany, Stanley Reed, Matt Phillips, Niraj Chokshi, Tiffany Hsu, Sapna Maheshwari, Kevin Granville and Carlos Tejada.