Stocks finished sharply lower Wednesday after President Donald Trump warned Americans that it’s “going to be a painful two weeks” and White House officials estimated the U.S. could see 100,000 to 240,000 deaths as the coronavirus spreads nationwide.
“Our strength will be tested, our endurance will be tried,” Trump said at his daily White House briefing on Tuesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 973 points, or 4.44%, to 20,943, the S&P 500 dropped 4.41% and the Nasdaq sank 4.41%.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the intelligence community said in a classified report that China’s public tally of Covid-19 infections and deaths was purposefully incomplete and deliberately underreports the total number of cases and deaths in the country.
Deborah Birx, coordinator of the federal government's response to the pandemic, said as many as 200,000 Americans were projected to die in the outbreak.
“There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors,” Birx said, adding that people must stick with strict federal social distancing guidelines.
Without social distancing, the death toll could be as high as 2.2 million, according to White House officials.
Sentiment also was dented by factory data from Tokyo to London that revealed output slumping in nearly every major economy. Supply chains have buckled, plants have been shuttered and workers have remained home for fear of contracting the virus.
A private survey showed, however, that manufacturing data in China expanded slightly in March as factories slowly began operating again after shutting down amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In the U.S., companies trimmed payrolls by 27,000 in early March, according to ADP, but those data are just the start of what is expected to be among the deepest job cuts in generations amid the virus-related economic shutdown.
Manufacturing activity in the U.S. contracted in March to 49.1 from 50.1 in February, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The data were collected in early March and don't take into account the full extent of the shutdown.
On Tuesday stocks declined, closing the worst quarter since the financial crisis of 2008.
The S&P 500 fell 1.6% on Tuesday and dropped 20% during the quarter, while the Dow slid 23%, the blue-chip index's worst quarterly fall since 1987.
The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 911,308 according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 45,947.
The U.S. has 206,207 cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE. Deaths in the U.S. have risen to at least 4,516.