US stocks staged a dramatic recovery Monday when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell swooped in with yet another program to help buffer investors from the impact of the coronavirus.
The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled as much as 762.36 points, or 2.9 percent, to 24,843.18, after several US states reported spikes in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. But the blue-chip index bounced back — to gain 157.62 points — on the Fed’s promise to expand its bond-buying program to include a wider array of corporate bonds.
The S&P 500 index, which had fallen 2.4 percent in early trading, finished the day up 0.63 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 1.43 percent after an early 1.9 percent loss.
Driving stocks lower were reports that nine US states have seen record numbers of new coronavirus cases in recent days with four hitting new highs for hospitalizations on Saturday. Dozens of new cases have also emerged since late last week in Beijing, which went almost two months without any reported infections.
A continued surge in new cases could jeopardize the economic reopening that had helped fuel the market’s recent rally.
That’s when the Federal Reserve announced that it will expand its corporate credit facility to purchase individual corporate bonds — just the latest signal to investors that Powell, the Fed’s Chairman, will do whatever it takes to prop up the market until the US economy recovers from the pandemic.
“This is yet another sign the Fed is going to do everything under their power to help liquidity,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial. “Worries over a second wave? No worries, the Fed is here.”
Wall Street is also digesting how recent protests against police brutality might change the landscape for the 2020 presidential election, according to Jason Ader, CEO of SpringOwl Asset Management.
“Now you have political uncertainty, which leads to economic uncertainty and policy uncertainty with the backdrop in terms of rising cases,” Ader said.
Plus, investors were ready to take the steam out of a dizzying market rally that experts say was ripe for a pullback.
“I think it was a correction that was going to happen regardless of what the news flow was,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group. “It was going to find its own reason. And I’m not sure it’s much more than that now.”
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