Stocks fall sharply as US government warns of hard weeks ahead

A recent rebound in domestic equity prices faded further into the distance today, as American stocks fell for a second consecutive day following modest Tuesday declines.

After rising from new 52-week lows, all domestic indices are down after the American president warned of difficult weeks ahead as the country reels from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. The day’s trading left stocks down heading into Thursday, when a new unemployment claim number is expected.

Some are anticipating a worse number than last week’s 3.3 million claims, a result that was historic in size. If tomorrow’s report is as bad as some expect, it would underscore the scale of economic damage the country endures as it seeks to stem the spread of COVID-19 after an initially slow national response that has since splintered into a patchwork of state-led efforts. Many Americans are staying home, a condition that could persist for weeks or months, exacerbating economic damage.

Here’s the day’s results:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: -973.65, -4.44%
  • S&P 500: -114.09, -4.41%
  • Nasdaq Composite: -339.52, -4.41%

Shares of SaaS and cloud companies, as tracked by the BVP Nasdaq Emerging Cloud Index, fell 4.83% today. As with the broader technology industry, SaaS firms saw their shares fall sharply before recovering some; and, like their industry peers, they are now trending down yet again.

Pressure on automakers

The Big Three Detroit automakers — GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — also saw stocks slide after reporting first-quarter sales declines. GM reported a 7.1% drop in sales in the first three months of the quarter ended March 31 compared to the same year-ago period. FCA reported a 10.4% decline in sales. Ford is expected to report its quarterly sales numbers on Thursday. Tesla, which saw its shares fall 8.1% to $481.56, is expected to report deliveries this week.

GM shares fell today 7.31% to $19.26, while FCA saw its price drop 5.15% to $6.82.

GM and FCA were hardly the only automakers to see a drop in sales caused by falling demand for cars, trucks and SUVs. Hyundai, Nissan and Porsche also reported declines.

With the close of a turbulent Q1 behind us, we are not yet free of the first three months of 2020. Earnings season looms, and with it an endless retrace of the outbreak of the pandemic domestically, as sketched by the numbers of domestically listed companies. For some firms, Q1 numbers will prove a bonanza. For most, however, they will likely show the opposite. So get ready for another quarter of confusion, it’s going to be a long three months.