Stocks finished sharply lower Wednesday after a plunge of more than 7% in the S&P 500 that set off circuit breakers and a trading halt.
It was the fourth trading halt invoked over the past two weeks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 1,338 points, or 6.3%, to 19,898, the S&P 500 dropped 5.18% and the Nasdaq was down 4.7%.
The Dow has wiped out all the gains achieved since Donald Trump was inaugurated in January 2017. The index is down nearly a third since its Feb. 12 record close of 29,551.42.
Stocks traded significantly lower all through Wednesday's session, giving up the previous session's gains.
Volatility reigned while efforts by the U.S. government to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic were deemed a good start but considered not enough to stop the damage.
The Trump administration has proposed sending two rounds of checks, totaling $500 billion, to U.S. citizens in an attempt to limit the economic fallout from the pandemic.
Government payments would arrive on April 6 and May 18, in equal value, based on an outline of the White House’s coronavirus stimulus plan obtained by Bloomberg. The amount of the payment would be linked to income and number of children in a family, Bloomberg reported.
“Payment amounts would be fixed and tiered based on income level and family size,” the Treasury Department wrote in the proposal, according to Bloomberg. “Treasury is modeling specific options.”
The planned U.S. stimulus could amount to more than $1 trillion.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Republican senators Tuesday there was a possibility that U.S. unemployment could rise to 20% without government intervention because of the impact of the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported.
"Though daunting, once the market finds a bottom, which is where the index begins to consistently move higher than the previous market low - and we believe it is 'when' not 'if' the market finds a bottom - may provide an attractive opportunity for long-term investors to consider adding risk to portfolios," said Burt White, chief investment officer at LPL Financial.
Oil prices hit an 18-year low in trading Wednesday.
Stocks finished solidly higher Tuesday after Mnuchin said the Trump administration was looking into sending checks to Americans to help them during the coronavirus outbreak.
The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 212,616, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 8,727.
The U.S. has 7,663 cases of the virus and deaths have climbed to about 115.
The infection has spread to all 50 states after West Virginia reported its first case of the virus.
A federal government plan to combat the coronavirus indicated the pandemic “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves,” resulting in widespread shortages, The New York Times reported.
Boeing (BA) - Get Report plummeted after the world's second-largest plane maker said it was seeking $60 billion in aerospace industry aid from the U.S. government to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Boeing said the $60 billion sought was the "minimum" needed to support the industry's 2.5 million jobs, and should come in the form of loan guarantees and access to private and public liquidity.
Boeing didn't indicate which portion of the aid it would need directly, but noted that it relies on at least 17,000 suppliers around the country and holds the position of the biggest U.S. exporter.
Shares of FedEx (FDX) - Get Report finished higher after the shipping company posted quarterly revenue that beat analysts' estimates but pulled its fiscal-year outlook because of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. The company said that it had seen a rebound in its China business.
General Mills (GIS) - Get Report fell Wednesday as the coronavirus outbreak dented the Minneapolis cereal giant's revenue. The trouble was in Asia, with sales falling 5% on that continent and in Latin America.
Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report was ordered to halt production at its plant in Fremont, Calif., by the Alameda County, Calif., sheriff's office. The electric vehicle company had continued to operate the factory a day after counties in the San Francisco area issued an order that nonessential businesses be shut down.