By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com -- U.S. stock market plunged again on Thursday as participants took fright at the prospect of the coronavirus outbreak disrupting U.S. economic life.
By 9:35 AM ET (1435 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 437 points or 1.6% at 26,475 points. The S&P 500 was down 1.6% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.8%. All three indices were slightly paring initial losses which extended to as much as 2.4%.
One of the biggest losers was Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) stock, which fell 3.9% after the software giant joined Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in saying that it would miss its first-quarter sales guidance. Microsoft said it expects weakness in its personal computing division, which covers Windows software and Xbox gaming consoles. That accounts for over one-third of group revenue.
Another big loser was Budweiser brewer Anheuser Busch Inbev (BR:ABI) stock, which fell 8.3% after forecasting a dismal first quarter due to the collapse of social drinking in China in January and February. The world’s biggest brewer also said in its quarterly report that it continued to lose market share in the U.S. to hard seltzers.
Booking (NASDAQ:BKNG) stock fell 4.1% after the operator of travel websites warned of a “significant and negative impact” to earnings from the coronavirus, although its fourth-quarter results came in ahead of expectations.
The company said EBITDA in the first quarter would be around $575 million, some 20% below consensus forecasts.
Elsewhere, Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) stock continued its plummet back to earth, falling 15.3% after Wednesday’s decline of 15.5%. While its down by one-third from its peak only one week ago, it has still more than doubled since listing late last year.
Oil and gas stocks continued to feel the pressure of falling crude prices, which is increasingly putting their debt-servicing capabilities into question. Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) stock plunged 28% to its lowest since the oil price collapse of 2015, after the company said late on Wednesday that its free cash flow will stagnate, while output growth this year will be less than half the group’s medium-term target.
U.S. crude futures fell 4.9% to $46.30. However, the dollar index, which has benefited from inflows from commodity currencies in recent weeks, fell 0.4% to 98.53 as participants factored in a weaker U.S. economic outlook.
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