February 25, 2020 / 7:09 PM / in a month

U.S. stock rout continues as virus spreads, Treasury yields sink

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main stock indexes fell almost 2% on Tuesday as the coronavirus spread further and officials described it as “a rapidly escalating epidemic,” a day after the S&P 500 and the Dow Industrials’ biggest daily decline in two years.

Investors moved into safer-seeming assets like government bonds, pushing the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note to its lowest ever, amid concerns the spreading epidemic would have a significant impact on global growth.

U.S. Health and Human Services (HAS) Secretary Alex Afar said on Tuesday there will likely be more cases of coronavirus in the United States, and he asked a Senate subcommittee to approve $2.5 billion in funding to fight the outbreak after proposing cuts to the department’s budget.

COMMENTS:

DAVID CARTER, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, LENOX WEALTH ADVISORS, NEW YORK

“(The selloff is) clearly coronavirus driven, and we don’t expect a rebound until the spread of the virus peaks. Historically, markets always recover from these health scares (SARIS, Enola) but only after the crisis peaks. We are watching closely for signs of a peak. However, the spread to Italy suggests a peak is not near.

“The equity market was priced for perfection but the coronavirus scare is clearly a real problem, and a big blemish on perfection.”

“The equity market is off year-to-date, and it’s not about the Fed, it’s not about profits, it’s not about equity valuation multiples. It’s about the fact that if countries close their borders global trade doesn’t really work and the global economy and profit growth will suffer.”

“The Dramatic drop in bond yields suggests lots of fear. The drop in bond yields and the inversion is adding to the angst in the equity market.  The Fed cannot ride to the rescue in this situation.”

DAVID KATZ, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, MATRIX ASSET ADVISORS, NEW YORK

“You sort of just have a mini panic. The CDC putting out new information, which is reasonable information, but you have people looking at yesterday where coronavirus cases started to go up in Europe and other parts of Asia and the market went down a lot and the natural assumption is, my goodness, if it comes here then it’s going to go down more. You sort of have the coronavirus selloff taking on a life of its own.”

“Generally, when you have a selloff like this, once there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the markets recover as quickly as they sell off, and we believe that that’s going to be the case this time.”

“Our expectation is there will be more bad news along with some better developments and the time to be buying stocks is in days like yesterday, days like today...

“We think that if you are waiting for better news, you are going to ultimately end up paying a batch more. As quickly as stocks come down, they recover.”

“We think that there definitely is going to be a slowdown in the global economy in the first quarter and in the U.S. economy and we think that companies will miss expectations. However, if and when there is any sort of clarity or light at the end of the tunnel, we think the market will look beyond the quarterly disappointments and look at the recovery portion.”

“The best course of action for investors is if you’re in stocks and you have a reasonable allocation, stay with that; we would not be selling into this weakness. By the same token, if you have had cash on the sidelines you are hopeful to put to work, we think this is a good opportunity to be adding into stocks here.”

CAROL SCHLEP, DEPUTY CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, ABBOT DOWNING,  MINNEAPOLIS

“People are pulled to the sidelines and there’s a re-evaluation of risks. They’re taking a wait and see because nobody how to accurately estimate the potential near term economic impact of coronavirus.”

“People who want to sell today don’t have anybody on the other side of the trade. We haven’t had a big pull back in the market for a very long time.”

“Markets abhor a vacuum. They hate not knowing so people are waiting to see, to give it a few days to settle.”

“When the mood is fearful and people are reticent to buy having offhand comments circulate is going to add to the aura of concern and make people step back and wait.”

Compiled by Alden Bentley

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