Mar 5, 2020 - Economy & Business

The distracting shiny object: S&P ups and downs

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Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

For anyone who gets their economic news from cable TV, we're in the craziest period of the Trump presidency so far.

Driving the news: The S&P 500 fell by 3.4% last Monday, Feb. 24. It then fell another 3% the following day, and it fell by 4.4% on Thursday Feb. 27. This week, it rose 4.6% on Monday, fell 2.8% on Tuesday, and rose 4.2% on Wednesday. It's entirely possible we'll see another 3%+ swing today.

Making matters worse: With the market still near all-time highs, a 3.7% intraday swing in the Dow corresponds to a 1,000-point move.

  • That's guaranteed to generate banner headlines — and freak out boomers who still think of 1,000 Dow points as being a major milestone.

How it works: The Trump administration explicitly uses the stock market as a barometer of its success, and the coronavirus was a large part of the reason for the recent stock-market volatility. Those factors explain why Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow were appointed to the government's coronavirus task force.

The bottom line: So long as the stock market remains volatile, expect Trump to fixate much more on the Dow than he does on CDC mortality reports.

Go deeper: How Trump’s economy stacks up

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The market is not quite as bad as the Dow makes it look

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

One high-profile group of stocks has been doing particularly badly during the coronavirus crisis — the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The state of play: The Dow stocks are down 33% over the past month, compared with a 30% decline for the S&P 500, and a 24% drop for the more tech-focused Nasdaq. On up days and down days the Dow has generally underperformed the market as a whole.

Stock market tumbles as coronavirus stimulus hangs in limbo

Exterior of the New York Stock Exchange, which closed the trading floor today. Photo: Angela Weiss via AFP

Stocks closed down about 3% on Monday, though they finished above the lowest levels of the day.

By the numbers: The S&P 500 joined the Dow in shedding all the gains since President Trump's inauguration in 2017, a nod to how steep the market drop has been in an extremely short period of time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 23, 2020 - Economy & Business

Stocks sink 4% as Dow closes in bear market

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Wednesday, with the Dow closing in bear market territory — or 20% below the record high hit in February.

Why it matters: The Dow's steep drop ends one major index's record 11-year stretch without a 20% decline, as Wall Street grapples with just how bad the coronavirus will be for the global economy. The S&P 500 is about 30 points away from hitting bear market territory.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 11, 2020 - Economy & Business