Dow's Drastic Decline, Coronavirus and Global Pandemic Fears - 5 Things You Must Know Friday

Stock futures signal another steep drop for Wall Street after the World Health Organization says the coronavirus outbreak has 'pandemic potential'; the Dow's drop Thursday of 1,190.95 points was its largest one-day point drop in history; the S&P 500 has fallen 12% from its all-time high set a week ago.
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Here are five things you must know for Friday, Feb. 28:

1. -- Stock Futures Sink on Fears of Global Pandemic

Stock futures pointed to extended declines Friday for U.S. stocks amid the worst week for world stocks since the 2008 financial crisis as investors prepared for what could be a global coronavirus pandemic.

Stocks in Asia closed lower and European stocks were down significantly Friday following  a drop of nearly 1,200 points for the Dow Jones Industrial Average in Thursday's session, the second time this week the blue-chip index has slumped more than 1,000 points.

With Moody's Investors Service warning of the potential for a coronavirus-led global recession, supply chains disrupted by China's ongoing health crisis and the lingering effects of its trade war with the United States, and government bond yields around the world testing all-time lows, risk appetite was in short supply Friday. Gold prices, a safe-have asset, were on track for their third straight monthly gain.

“The markets are terrified that the disruption is going to hit GDP and then will hit profits at some stage,” Andrew Freris, CEO of Ecognosis Advisory Co. in London,
told Bloomberg. “The only thing central banks can do is cut interest rates, and cutting interest rates isn’t going to do anything to restore the supply disruption in individual
countries.”

More than 83,000 people - mostly in China but in rising numbers around the world - have been infected by the virus, officially known as Covid-19, with new cases confirmed overnight in Nigeria, New Zealand and Lithuania.

"This virus has pandemic potential," said World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu. "This is not a time for fear. This is a time for taking action to prevent infection and save lives now."

Stock futures were suggesting another decline for Wall Street on Friday.

Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 172 points, S&P 500 futures fell 19.15 points and Nasdaq futures were down 52.75 points.

2. -- Five Startling Stock Market Statistics

The Dow closed Thursday at 25,766.64. When stocks began trading for the year on Jan. 2, the Dow stood at 28,638.97. The blue-chip index's all-time closing high of 29,551.42 was achieved on Feb. 12, a little more than two weeks ago.

The Dow's drop Thursday of 1,190.95 points was its largest one-day point drop in history, bringing its loss for the week to 3,225.77 points, or 11.1%. 

The loss so far this week ranks it in the top 15 of the steepest weekly selloffs for the Dow in history. The worst: 18.15% for the week ended Oct. 10, 2008.

The S&P 500, which fell 4.42% on Thursday, has declined 12% from its all-time high set a week ago. The Nasdaq tumbled 4.61% on Thursday.

The percentage declines for both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were their worst since Aug. 18, 2011.

3. -- Foot Locker and Wayfair Report Earnings

Foot Locker  (FL) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but weak holiday demand and tough competition in sports clothing markets held back same-store sales growth.

Furniture retailer Wayfair  (W) - Get Report reported a fourth-quarter loss wider than analysts' expectations.

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Friday includes International Trade in Goods for January at 8:30 a.m. ET, Personal Income and Outlays for January at 8:30 a.m., Chicago PMI for February at 9:45 a.m. and Consumer Sentiment for February at 10 a.m.

4. -- Cisco Begins a New Round of Layoffs

Cisco Systems  (CSCO) - Get Report has begun a new round of layoffs as the networking-equipment giant, like many tech companies, faces an uncertain global economy.

Cisco told The Wall Street Journal that the layoffs were “part of an ongoing process of aligning our investments and resources to meet the evolving needs of our customers and partners.” 

The company, which has around 75,000 employees, didn't disclose how any jobs were cut or in what divisions the layoffs were made.

Cisco earlier this month said that near-term industry spending could dip amid increasing global macro uncertainty, adding it expects fiscal third-quarter revenue to fall 1.5% to 3.5%.

5. -- Beyond Meat Tumbles on Fourth-Quarter Loss

Beyond Meat  (BYND) - Get Report was tumbling 11.34% to $94.10 in premarket trading Friday after the plant-based meat maker beat analysts' fourth-quarter revenue estimates but its loss in the period came in below expectations.

Beyond Meat posted a loss of 1 cent a share compared with a year-earlier loss of $1.10 a share. Revenue rose 212% to $98.5 million.

Analysts were expecting Beyond Meat to report a profit of 1 cent a share on revenue of $79.5 million.

Gross profit was 34% of revenue compared with 25% a year earlier.

For the current fiscal year, the company expects revenue to range from $490 million to $510 million, a 64% to 71% year-over-year increase. Analysts were forecasting revenue of $495.2 million.