Dow flip-flops and closes down more than 100 points

U.S. stock indexes closed mostly lower on Wednesday, erasing early gains after four days of steep selloffs amid fear of the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the world economy. 

The S&P 500 fell 11 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,116. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 123 points, or 0.5 percent, to 26,957. The Nasdaq edged up 15 points, or 0.2 percent, to 8,980. 

It follows a sharp selloff that gutted the Dow by more than 1,900 points in two days, as the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that the rapid spread of the virus to more places was inevitable, even as the outbreak in China had peaked. 

Despite the flip-flop, President Trump said he was ‘confident’ that stocks will recover. 

He announced at a press conference that the risk of people contracting the virus is ‘very low’, but added that the U.S. is prepared to ‘spend whatever’s appropriate’ to deal with the outbreak. 

U.S. stock indexes opened higher on Wednesday, after four days of steep selloffs amid fear of the coronavirus. Pictured above are traders on the NYSE on Ash Wednesday

U.S. stock indexes opened higher on Wednesday, after four days of steep selloffs amid fear of the coronavirus. Pictured above are traders on the NYSE on Ash Wednesday

U.S. stock indexes opened higher on Wednesday, after four days of steep selloffs amid fear of the coronavirus. Pictured above are traders on the NYSE on Ash Wednesday

Trump has also put US Vice-President Mike Pence in charge of the nation’s response to the disease. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned that a pandemic was likely.

As of Wednesday, death toll in Italy had crossed 19, new cases in South Korea rose above 1,260, while first case of the virus infection was reported in Greece and Brazil.

The three main indexes have fallen in the past four sessions, with the Dow losing more than 1,900 points in the past two days, while the S&P 500 has lost about $1.74 trillion in market capitalization in the same period, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices senior analyst Howard Silverblatt.

The S&P 500 is down 7.8 percent from its intraday record high hit last Wednesday, while the Nasdaq is down 8.9 percent from the peak. 

A five-day view of the Dow shows a sharp drop in the past few days

A five-day view of the Dow shows a sharp drop in the past few days

A five-day view of the Dow shows a sharp drop in the past few days

If an index closes down 10 percent or more from its closing high, it would confirm a correction territory.

Among stocks, Walt Disney slipped 2.2 percent in premarket trading on news Robert Iger will step down as chief executive officer, handing the reins to Disney Parks head Bob Chapek.

Beyond Meat Inc rose 5.6 percent as Starbucks Corp said its Canadian stores will start selling the company’s plant-based breakfast sandwich next week.  

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