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Dow Ends Off 1,032; Stocks Slammed as Coronavirus Spreads Outside Asia

Stocks finish down sharply, with the Dow Industrials off more than 1,000 points, as investors worry the global spread of the coronavirus will impact economies outside of China.
  1. Stocks end sharply down as investors grow worried the global spread of the coronavirus, which now has been found in more than two dozen countries, will impact economies outside of China.
  2. Coronavirus update: 2,592 deaths in China, 77,150 confirmed cases.
  3. Gilead Sciences is Real Money's Stock of the Day. The World Health Organization said the drugmaker's antiviral remdesivir may be effective against the coronavirus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 1,000 points Monday, as major stock indexes were slammed on investor worries that the global spread of the coronavirus will impact economies outside of China.

Futures prices, meanwhile, were indicating the Federal Reserve could cut interest rates in the coming months if the coronavirus spread accelerates and global economic growth slows. 

Italy confirmed 150 cases of the virus, with officials verifying at least three deaths in Europe's third-largest economy. Iran has said as many as eight people have died, while the number of coronavirus cases in South Korea has jumped to just under 800, the most outside China.

Confirmed cases in China, where the outbreak began late last year, numbered 77,150, with 2,592 deaths, according to China's National Health Commission. The World Health Organization said there are 79,407 cases of the virus worldwide and 2,622 deaths.

Chinese President Xi Jinping admitted Sunday the virus will "inevitably have a relatively big impact on the economy and society," and the International Monetary Fund warned global economic growth could be reduced by 0.1% from the virus outbreak.

The spread of the virus to nations in Europe and central Asia - which have no clear travel or epidemiological links to China - triggered a notable flight to safety in trading Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its worst drop point since Feb. 8, 2018 finishing down 1,032 points, or 3.56%, to 27,961, the S&P 500 tumbled 3.35% and the Nasdaq was down 3.7%. 

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Leading the Dow lower were UnitedHealth  (UNH) - Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (DE) Report, American Express  (AXP) - Get American Express Company Report and Cisco Systems  (CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems Inc. Report.

"(Monday's) volatile market reaction with investors fleeing risk in favor of safe-haven assets such as U.S. Treasuries exemplifies the uncertainty associated to the viral outbreak," said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management.

Warren Buffett told CNBC on Monday that investors shouldn't make decisions based on the volatility caused by the coronavirus.

“You don’t buy or sell your business based on today’s headlines. If it gives you a chance to buy something you like and you can buy it even cheaper, you’re in good luck,” he said, adding that “you can’t predict the market by reading the daily newspaper.”

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway undefined undefined, reported its latest results over the weekend. The company swung to a profit in the fourth quarter vs. a year-earlier loss and posted cash on hand that remains at near-record levels as the conglomerate’s collective investments continued to churn out positive returns.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company posted earnings in the quarter of $29.2 billion, or $17,909 per Class A share, a reversal from a loss of $25.4 billion, or $15,467 a share, the year before. The year-ago results were dragged down largely by an unexpected write-down at Kraft Heinz KHC, of which Berkshire is a significant shareholder.

Cash on hand, meantime, totaled $128 billion as of Dec. 31, the company said, slightly down from $128.2 billion at the end of the third quarter but still near a record high.

Shares of Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences Inc. Report rose after the World Health Organization said the drugmaker's antiviral remdesivir may be effective against the coronavirus.

The comments, which were reported by CNBC, came in a press conference at which the organization lauded the Chinese government for the measures it took to stem the spread of the virus. When identifying any drugs that could potentially combat the disease, WHO named the drug from Gilead Sciences.