KEY POINTS

  • Treasury yields surged more than 19%.
  • U.S. big three automakers will close plants for two weeks
  • Mnuchin warned of 20% unemplyment if Congress failed to pass stimulus

U.S. stocks plunged on Wednesday and oil prices cratered as the three biggest U.S. automakers shut down their factories over coronavirus fears. But CNBC reported just before market close that the Senate had the votes to pass a virus relief bill that would expand paid leave and unemployment benefits.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,338.46 points to 19,898.92 while the S&P 500 dropped 130.74 points to 2,398.42 and the Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 344.94 points to 6,989.84.

The Dow closed only about 94 points above the closing of Jan. 19, 2017, the date of Donald Trump's inauguration -- meaning almost all the market gains during his presidency have been wiped out.

7.58 billion shares with 138 issues advancing, 12 setting new highs, and 2,898 declining, with 2,209 setting new lows.

Active movers were led by Bank of America (BAC), General Electric Co. (GE) and Ford Motor (F).

Ford (F), General Motors (GM) and Fiat Chrysler said they will close all of their factories for two weeks due to fears over the coronavirus.

U.S. coronavirus cases now total at least 7,323, along with at least 115 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“We need to shut it down now... This is the only answer,” said Bill Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Capital Management. “America will end as we know it. I’m sorry to say so, unless we take this option. Hell is coming. Capitalism does not work in an 18-month shutdown, capitalism can work in a 30-day shutdown.”

 The Treasury Department is considering two rounds of direct payments to citizens, totaling $250 billion. Such payments would begin April 6

“Volatility is not over yet,” said Tom Essaye, founder of The Sevens Report. “We also need to see more progress on the pharma side of things, and above all else we need the growth rate of the virus to peak in the coming weeks.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also told Republican senators that the U.S. unemployment rate could spike to 20% if Congress doesn’t pass the trillion-dollar stimulus package.

DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach said there’s a 90% chance of a recession and added he thinks the stimulus will end up larger than $1 trillion.

Total mortgage application volume dropped 8.4% last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, due to a sharp increase in mortgage rates.

The Commerce Department said housing starts dropped 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.599 million units in February.

Overnight in Asia, markets fell. China’s Shanghai Composite fell 1.83%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng plunged 4.18%, and Japan’s Nikkei-225 dropped 1.68%.

In Europe markets tanked as Britain’s FTSE-100 fell 3.94%, France’s CAC-40 sank 6.03% and Germany’s DAX slumped 4.81%.

Crude oil futures fell 17.51% at $22.23 per barrel, Brent crude gained 4.62% at $26.03. Gold futures dropped 2.03%.

The euro dropped 0.82% at $1.0908 while the pound sterling fell 3.77% at $1.601.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped 26.98% to 1.266% while yield on the 30-year Treasury surged 19.91% to 1.897%.