The first quarter of 2020, which ends today, was a disaster for stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 23%, the biggest first-quarter drop in its history, which goes back 135 years. It’s also the biggest single quarterly decline in the Dow since the fourth quarter of 1987, when the average fell 25%.
The biggest losers for the quarter: Boeing, down 54%, and Chevron and Exxon, off at least 39%, according to Bloomberg.
Boeing, like most airline stocks, is suffering from an enormous decline in air traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused airlines to eliminate thousands of flights and countries to close their borders and order residents not to leave their homes for anything other than essential needs.
Exxon and Chevron have suffered from plummeting oil prices. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S benchmark, lost 67% in the quarter to end near $20 a barrel.
“Current oil prices well below levels needed for firms to turn profit if drilling new wells,” tweeted Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq didn’t fare as badly as the Dow, finishing the first quarter off 20% and 14%, respectively.
Despite these declines, the last trading day of the quarter wasn’t nearly as negative as many other sessions during the past three months. The Dow finished the day down 1.8%; the S&P 500, off 1.6%; and the Nasdaq nearly 1% lower.
What happens next to stocks, and the economy, will depend on the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic, how long whole nations, states and cities remain essentially locked down and how well government emergency aid packages and central bank interventions work to offset the impact of what many are calling a global recession.
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