Stocks sell off sharply as coronavirus cases soar

By CNN Business

Updated 8:15 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020
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4:19 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Dow and S&P 500 log worst day since June

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Traders working on the New York Stock Exchange's floor on Wednesday Oct. 28, 2020. 
Traders working on the New York Stock Exchange's floor on Wednesday Oct. 28, 2020.  Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange/AP

It was another ugly day for Wall Street and the second sharp selloff of the week. Worries about rising coronavirus infections, a retightening of pandemic restrictions in Europe, as well as uncertainty about the election and future stimulus to boost the economy have investors in a vice.

The Dow closed 3.4%, or 943 points, while the broader S&P 500 ended 3.5% lower.

It was the worst performance since June for both indexes.

The Nasdaq Composite closed 3.7% lower, its worst day since early September.

2:22 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

First Solar soars on sunny earnings outlook

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

Solar energy leader First Solar (FSLR) is one of the few bright spots in the market sky Wednesday. Shares soared more than 10% after the company reported better-than-expected revenue and earnings after the closing bell Tuesday.

First Solar's stock is now up about 65% this year. The entire industry is on fire in 2020. The Invesco Solar ETF (TAN) has more than doubled in 2020.

This rally is in part due to hopes that a potential Joe Biden presidency and possible blue wave in the Senate will lead to more federal government investments in solar and other forms of alternative energy -- even though Biden has said he does not specifically endorse the Green New Deal plan proposed by the more progressive Democrats in Congress.

First Solar did not address the US political outlook in its conference call with analysts Tuesday, but CEO Mark Widmar did (perhaps tellingly) note that a so-called Green Deal in Europe has benefited the company.

"The Green Deal, which could make solar the number one source of electricity in Europe by 2025 is an example of how political leaders are bundling post-pandemic economic recovery with decarbonization commitments," he said.

1:18 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

The Dow is now down 900 points

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Welcome to the afternoon portion of this selloff: The Dow is now down 900 points, or 3.3%.

Ouch.

The broader S&P 500 is 3.2% lower, while the Nasdaq Composite has tumbled 3.4%.

Things are really not getting better. Uncertainty is the name of the game and that won't change anytime soon.

1:19 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

There's more volatility ahead, strategist says

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The market looks a mess today but at least the selloff isn't gathering much more steam at midday.

"If you ask three people you hear three different reasons for why the market is selling off," said Nancy Tengler, chief investment strategist at Tengler Wealth Management, on the CNN Business digital live show Markets Now.

Uncertainty about the election outcome next week, further government stimulus and rising Covid-19 infections are weighing on the market. It's already the second selloff of the week, and it might not be the last.

"We will continue to see volatility for at least the next few weeks and maybe longer than that," Tengler said.

But this might also be an opportunity for buyers, although Tengler advises her clients not to "invest your politics."

The outlook for US stocks, however, is good, she said. At the end of the day there is little attractive alternative to the US equity market, and the lagged effects of government stimulus will also continue to feed through, she said.

1:13 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Society needs Halloween more than ever, and retailers are profiting.

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The election is coming closer, but first comes Halloween. This year, society might need that escape more than ever.

Retailer Spirit Halloween is seeing the benefits of this. The retailer has opened more stores than every before -- some 1,400 -- to keep up with demand.

But of course the pandemic has changed things. "We're getting better real estate, more prominent real estate," the company's CEO Steven Silverstein said. But at the same time, the company has had to close its in-store fitting rooms.

1:13 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Investors are hoping for swift election results next week

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The election is only six days out. Investors are nervous.

"I think we are witnessing a real change on what investors are looking for," said Tina Fordham, head of global political strategy at Avenhurst.

Clarity on election results sooner rather than later is particularly important for investors, Fordham told Alison Kosik on the CNN Business digital live show Markets Now.

One of the biggest drivers of the US stock market has been government stimulus to get the economy back on track.

"Investors are looking for stimulus, and they're more likely to get that if there's a so-called 'blue wave'," Fordam said.

1:23 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

European markets finish sharply lower as new restrictions loom

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe and Sarah Dean

Europe's stock markets closed deep in the red today. Britain's FTSE 100 closed down 2.6%, while Germany's DAX fell nearly 4.2%. In France, the CAC 40 dropped 3.4%.

A rapid rise in Covid-19 infections across Europe is leading governments to bring back restrictions.

In France, local media, including the newspaper Le Monde, report that a new lockdown will be announced by the president in an address to the nation at 8 pm local (3 pm ET) today. CNN affiliate BFMTV reports that the new measures may last four weeks and come into force as early as Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, Germany's Robert Koch Institute Wednesday reported a record-high 14,964 new daily coronavirus infections in 24 hours. German media outlets report more severe restrictions on public life starting Monday, including the closures of restaurants and a maximum 10 people for private gatherings between two households.

12:24 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

DOJ is investigating Raytheon’s accounting practices

From CNN Business' Clare Duffy

Aerospace giant Raytheon Technologies (RTX) says it received a criminal subpoena from the Department of Justice seeking information related to its financial accounting and reporting practices. 

Raytheon disclosed in its quarterly earnings filing Tuesday that it received the subpoena on October 8. DOJ is seeking “information and documents in connection with an investigation relating to financial accounting, internal controls over financial reporting, and cost reporting regarding Raytheon Company’s Missiles & Defense business since 2009.”

The company said it is “cooperating fully” and does not currently believe the investigation will have a “material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or liquidity.”

Neither the company nor the DOJ responded immediately to a request for comment. 

Raytheon’s stock fell around 4% on Wednesday. Shares are down around 40% this year as the company grapples with the massive pandemic-fueled hit to the commercial air travel business. 

The stock decline also followed a mixed earnings report Tuesday — Raytheon beat analysts' earnings projections but missed on sales. The company reported 34% year-over-year sales declines in both its Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney divisions.

12:05 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Netflix is one of the few stocks that's up today

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

Few stocks were spared in Wednesday's market rout. But investors in Netflix (NFLX) may be chilling today. The streaming giant's shares were up slightly, making it just one of two Nasdaq 100 stocks in green. ADP (ADP) was the other, surging 6% on solid earnings. Only 19 stocks in the S&P 500 were higher as well.

Netflix, unlike other big techs such as Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN) and Google owner Alphabet (GOOGL), has largely avoided the regulatory and antitrust scrutiny that has afflicted the other FAANG stocks.

Netflix has benefited from the stay-at-home trend during the Covid-19 pandemic. And despite mounting competition from the likes of Disney (DIS), Apple (AAPL) and CNN/HBO owner AT&T (T) and concerns about slowing subscriber growth, Netflix shares are still up more than 50% in 2020.