Wall Street's roller coaster week continues: March 11, 2020

By CNN Business

Updated 7:45 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020
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3:00 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Gilead Sciences is one of only six S&P 500 stocks up today

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

Investors are running for the hills because of the coronavirus -- but one of just a handful of S&P 500 stocks that was trading higher Wednesday is up because of hopes that it can treat the virus.

Biotech Gilead Sciences (GILD), which is testing its remdesivir drug in human patients, was up more than 1%. The World Health Organization has previously said that the antiviral vaccine might be the best hope to contain COVID-19.

Insurance brokers Wills Towers Watson (WLTW) and Aon (AON), cloud software firm Citrix (CTXS), web content management firm Akamai (AKAM) and wireless giant T-Mobile (TMUS) were the only other S&P 500 stocks higher in late afternoon trading.

2:38 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Dow slips into bear market territory

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The Dow fell into bear-market territory, dropping more than 20% from its most recent peak, which it reached on February 12.

The index was last down 1,390 points, or 5.6%, Wednesday.

The S&P 500, which is the broadest measure of the US stock market, as well as the Nasdaq Composite are not in bear-market territory, although they are also edging closer.

The S&P 500 fell 5.1%, and the Nasdaq was down 5%.


2:40 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Starbucks expands catastrophe pay policy due to coronavirus

From CNN's Kate Trafecante and Danielle Wiener-Bronner

Starbucks (SBUX) employees who have been diagnosed with, exposed to or had close prolonged contact with someone who has coronavirus can now claim up to 14 days of catastrophe pay, the chain said in note to employees Wednesday.

"I want you to know that here at Starbucks, you should never have to choose between work and taking care of yourself," wrote Rossann Williams, who leads company-operated business in the United States.

Employees don't need to show symptoms to take advantage of the expanded policy, she added. If they can't come back to work after 14 days, employees may qualify for more paid leave.

Starbucks previously announced that it will make its March 18 annual shareholder meeting a virtual gathering in light of the outbreak. Starbucks is based in Washington state, where at least 273 cases of coronavirus have been reported.

2:18 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

The Dow is extremely close to bear market territory

From CNN Business' Paul R, La Monica

Stocks continue to plunge due to fears about the coronavirus outbreak and there seems to be no end in sight to the market panic. If this keeps up, the Dow could soon find itself in bear market territory -- 20% off a recent high. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq aren't far behind.

Here's where the three most widely watched market indexes stand as of mid-afternoon Wednesday -- and what they need to close at in order to be considered in a bear market.

  • Dow: Down 19.7%. Needs to close at 23,641.12
  • S&P 500: Down 18.7%. Needs to close at 2,708.92
  • Nasdaq: Down 18.7% Needs to close at 7,853.74

Two other market barometers -- the Dow Jones Transportation Average and the small cap focused Russell 2000 -- are already in bear status.

2:22 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Stock hit fresh lows after WHO calls coronavirus a 'pandemic'

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The World Health Organization officially designated the global coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday. The disease has infected 118,000 people across the world.

Even though switching the label from epidemic to pandemic doesn't change the numbers, stock sold off further in the early afternoon.

The Dow dropped more than 1,100 points, or 4.5%, while the S&P 500 fell 4.1%.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 3.9%.

2:43 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

'Stay calm and stay invested,' says Goldman Sachs Asset Management

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

As stocks continue to fall, investors have got to keep a clear head.

"What we're actually telling clients to do is to stay calm and to stay invested," Katie Koch, co-head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, told Alison Kosik on the CNN Business' digital live show Markets Now.

While the reflex might be to sell as soon as the market flashes panic, timing the best points is to cash out is difficult. That's why it's important for investors to stay put.

"It's very possible that we will have an economic contraction," Koch said. But the economy moves in cycles, so investors shouldn't panic.

Many people came into the virus outbreak with a balanced portfolio consisting of stocks and bonds, Koch said. The recent selloff might be a good point to rebalance these portfolios and add some cheap stocks, Koch said.

Sectors of interest right now are health care, including biotechnology, as well as consumer companies, she said.

"We're a big believer in the long-term spending power of the millennial consumer," Koch added. "They have a perpetual desire for experience over things."

Watch the interview here:

2:36 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Coronavirus might not ring in the end of IPOs

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

It might not seem like a good time for companies to think about going public, but don't rule anything out.

"Good companies can still go public in challenging markets," said Pete Flint, managing partner at NFX and co-founder of Trulia.

In periods of economic shock, the market leader of a sector often excels, he added.

"For a company like Doordash, it's actually going to be a net positive," Flint said of the coronavirus panic.

Delivery business Doordash, which is backed by NFX, filed for an IPO last month.

On top of that, the attitude towards start-ups is changing.

"That growth-at-all costs era is over," Flint said. "I think that's true of many of these late stage companies.. Now investors want to see profits."

Watch the interview here:

1:23 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

When will the market find a floor?

From CNN Business' Anneken

Stocks are sliding in the early afternoon, edging closer to bear-market territory. With every day of the selloff, investors wonder when the market will bottom out.

"I'm not sure where the floor is," said Peter Tuchman, floor broker on the New York Stock Exchange for Quattro M. Securities.

The may might get a sustained break when the virus is contained and the headlines stop, Tuchman said.

But comparisons to the 2007-2009 financial crisis are not helpful in this selloff, he added.

"This has nothing to do with 2008. That was clearly a financial crisis, people were not panicked about their health and well being. That's what you have going on here," Tuchman said.

1:29 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Boeing institutes a hiring freeze

From CNN Business' Victoria Cavaliere

Boeing has announced a hiring freeze as it navigates the “global economic disruption” from coronavirus and the ongoing grounding of its best-selling 737 Max plane.

"The year ahead is shaping up to be as challenging for our business as any in the recent past," an internal email to employees said. "On top of the work of safely returning the 737 MAX to service and the financial impact of the pause in MAX production, we're now facing a global economic disruption generated by the COVID-19 coronavirus."

To preserve cash, the company said it's taking several steps.

  • Limiting travel and discretionary spending to business-critical activities only.
  • Limiting overtime to critical 737 MAX return-to-service support and other key efforts in support of our customers.
  • Pausing or placing on hold any new personnel requisitions at this time, pending a review of priorities and critical needs.