KEY POINTS

  • The equities rout Tuesday will continue Wednesday as futures slide
  • President Donald Trump warns of a “very, very painful two weeks” ahead, setting the stage for a bleak week for Wall Street
  • The U.S. economy will see a massive plunge this year

After recording the ugliest first quarter in its entire history, the Dow Jones Industrial Average looks set to continue its plunge on April 1 to open another volatile quarter.

Stock futures fell late Tuesday, presaging losses when Wall Street opens to a new, and likely, more volatile month where deaths in the U.S. due to COVID-19 are expected to peak. As of 9:45 p.m. ET Tuesday, Dow futures fell more than 260 points, or 1.2%. S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100 futures were down around 1%. Earlier, the Dow closed 410 points lower, thereby ending the first quarter down 14%, its worst quarterly performance since 1987.

After markets closed Tuesday, president Donald Trump warned of a “very, very painful two weeks” ahead. The White House estimates anywhere from 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic by August.

“This could be a hell of a bad two weeks," said Trump at a White House press conference. "This is going to be a very bad two, and maybe three weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before."

On Tuesday, the Dow closed 410.32 points lower, or 1.8%, at 21,917.16. The S&P 500 shed 1.6% to 2,584.59 after gaining 152 points earlier in the day. The NASDAQ fell nearly 1% to 7,700.10.

Both the Dow and the benchmark S&P 500 recorded their worst first-quarter performances ever. The Dow also had its worst overall quarter since 1987 while the S&P 500 suffered its largest quarterly loss since 2008.

Losses for March were also historic. The Dow fell 13.7% while the S&P 500 lost 12.5%. Analysts said these were both indices' worst one-month declines since 2008. The S&P 500 and Dow also recorded moves of at least 1% in 21 of the 22 trading days this month.

The state of the COVID-battered U.S. economy offered little cheer to investors. Goldman Sachs said the economy will be wracked by an unprecedented plunge in the second quarter. U.S. consumer confidence posted a big decline with the Conference Board on Tuesday revealing its consumer confidence index plunged to 120 this month from 132.6 in February.

Traders work on the floor at the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on March 18 Traders work on the floor at the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on March 18 Photo: AFP / Bryan R. Smith