Wall Street’s main indices have plunged for the sixth straight session, with the S&P 500 confirming its fastest correction in history as the rapid global spread of coronavirus intensified worries about economic growth.
The S&P 500 finished 12 per cent below its February 19 record close, marking its fastest correction ever in just six trading days.
The previous record was nine days in early 2018, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices analyst Howard Silverblatt.
The Dow registered a record one-day points drop, which was also its fourth 1,000-point decline in history and the second this week.
All three major US indices were also on track for their steepest weekly pullback since the global financial crisis, as new infections reported around the world surpassed those in mainland China.
While selling eased for a while during the session the S&P’s losses deepened rapidly in the last hour of trading to end at a session low, registering its biggest one-day percentage loss since August 18, 2011.
The CBOE volatility index, also known as the fear index, ended near its session high, up 11.60 points at 39.16, its highest level since February 2018.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,190.95 points, or 4.42 per cent, to 25,766.64 on Thursday, the S&P 500 lost 137.63 points, or 4.42 per cent, to 2,978.76 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 414.30 points, or 4.61 per cent, to 8,566.48.
The Dow ended 12.8 per cent below its February 12 record close and Nasdaq closed 12.7 per cent under its February 19 closing peak.
All of the 11 S&P sectors closed lower with real estate, technology and energy sectors all losing more than five per cent.
The best performers were the healthcare and industrials sectors, which closed down more than three per cent.
The NYSE Arca Airline index ended down 5.7 per cent on fears about global travel disruptions, while the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index, which includes China-exposed stocks, fell 4.7 per cent.
Microsoft Corp, the biggest drag on the S&P, dropped almost seven per cent after it warned of weakness in PC business due to a hit to its supply chain from the coronavirus, echoing similar statements from Apple and HP.
While it was the biggest boost for the S&P, 3M Co pared gains sharply as the day wore on, ending up just 0.8 per cent at $US150.16 after rising as high as $US155.43.
In the busiest trading session at least since July 2014, according to Refinitiv data, 15.63 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges on Thursday compared with the average 8.67 billion for the last 20 sessions.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 7.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 5.87-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted four new 52-week highs and 102 new lows. The Nasdaq Composite recorded 24 new highs and 489 new lows.