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Stocks on Pace for Worst Q Since 2008  03/31 09:11

   Stocks fell in early trading Tuesday, as Wall Street closes in on its worst 
quarterly performance since the most harrowing days of the 2008 financial 

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks fell in early trading Tuesday, as Wall Street closes 
in on its worst quarterly performance since the most harrowing days of the 2008 
financial crisis.

   The S&P 500 dipped by less than 1% in the first few minutes of trading, 
extending its loss for the first three months of the year to more than 19%. 
Asian markets rose earlier in the day following a stronger-than-expected report 
on China's economy, where factories are reopening as the spread of the 
coronavirus slows there. But momentum stalled in Europe, where the number of 
deaths jumped in Spain.

   The surge of coronavirus cases around the world has sent markets tumbling by 
breathtaking degrees since mid-February, halting what had been a good start to 
the year. Markets rose early in the quarter with expectations that the economy 
was accelerating due to a calming trade wars and low interest rates around the 

   Benchmark U.S. crude oil has dropped by roughly two thirds this quarter and 
hit its lowest price since 2002, for example, while Germany's DAX has lost a 
quarter of its value for its worst quarter in nearly 18 years.

   The big question is if markets will get worse. At this point, no one knows. 

   The reason for the huge declines in stock markets from Japan to Germany to 
the U.S. is that economies around the world are grinding to near standstills as 
businesses close their doors and people hunker down at home in hopes of slowing 
the spread of the virus. A record number of Americans applied for jobless 
benefits two weeks ago as layoffs sweep the country, and the economy will 
likely be in dismal shape until the spread of the virus slows.

   The hope is that massive aid coming from the Federal Reserve and Capitol 
Hill can help prop up the economy in the meantime. Goldman Sachs economists on 
Tuesday said they expect the U.S. economy to shrink 34% in the second quarter, 
but they expect growth to rebound in the third quarter.

   The S&P 500 was down 0.7%, as of 9:45 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones 
Industrial Average dipped 116 points, or 0.5%, to 22,210, and the Nasdaq was 
down 0.2%.

   The number of known coronavirus cases keeps rising, and the worldwide tally 
has topped 780,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States 
has the highest number in the world, more than 160,000.

   Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can 
include fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people 
with existing health problems, the virus can cause pneumonia and require 
hospitalization. More than 37,000 have died worldwide due to COVID-19, while 
more than 160,000 have recovered.

   "We're also still not even close to peak coronavirus in the U.S. which has 
already reported more cases than any other country and will sadly likely see a 
huge spike in the number of deaths, meaning further lockdown measures will 
likely follow," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe. "Huge 
challenges still lie ahead." 


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