Fears of a bear market — a 20 percent decline in the stock market from last month’s record high — were officially realized Wednesday as the worsening COVID-19 outbreak continued to spook investors.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1,465 points lower Wednesday, nearly 6 percent lower than Tuesday’s close and 20 percent lower than the record high set last month. The S&P 500 likewise fell 4.9 percent, briefly dropping into bear territory during the afternoon. The NASDAQ Composite Index closed down 4.7 percent. Stocks had rallied on Tuesday after dropping steeply on Monday, triggering a halt in trading at one point, but dropped again on Wednesday as the World Health Organization upgraded its classification of COVID-19 from a global health emergency to a pandemic.
The virus, a respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to 114 countries, infecting more than 118,000 people worldwide and causing over 4,100 deaths. 1,080 people infections and 32 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. so far.