Dow, S&P 500 post worst March since the Great Depression

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 20, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

U.S. equity markets ended the final day of the first quarter lower in what is the worst first-quarter performance on record.

For the Dow Jones Industrial Average, down over 22 percent, it is the worst month since 1987, for the S&P the worst since 2008.

On the day, the Dow over 400 points or 1.8 percent, wiping out earlier gains. The S&P 500 fell 1.6 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.9 percent.

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The Dow, which through Monday had fallen almost 22 percent this year, was on track for its biggest quarterly decline since 1987. The S&P 500 was looking at its worst quarter since 2008 and the Nasdaq was heading toward its largest quarterly decline since the end of 2018.

Looking at stocks, cruise operator Carnival Corp. announced a $1.25 billion common stock offering and note offerings totaling $4.75 billion. Rival Norwegian Cruise Lines extended its suspension of cruises through May 10, a month longer than previously planned.

American Airlines said after Monday’s closing bell that it expects to receive $12 billion in federal aid. Last week, Congress said the industry would receive $50 billion in relief funds.

Elsewhere, retailers The Gap Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. announced late Monday that they will furlough the majority of their workforces. The announcements followed the disclosure by Macy’s earlier in the day that it would furlough most of its staff of 130,000.

On the earnings front, furniture retailer RH reported weaker-than-expected revenue for the holiday quarter and withdrew its financial guidance for fiscal year 2020.

Food producer Conagra reported disappointing top- and bottom-line results, but said it expects to exceed its full-year guidance.

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Looking at commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil rallied 2 percent to $20.50 a barrel after finishing Monday at an 18-year low. Meanwhile, gold slid 2.4 percent to near $1,604 an ounce.

U.S. Treasurys fell, running the yield on the 10-year note up 2.8 basis points to 0.699 percent.

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In Europe, markets were higher across the board with France’s CAC up 0.4 percent, Germany’s DAX rising 1.4 percent and Britain’s FTSE adding 1.9 percent.

Asian markets rose, too, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng adding 1.9 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite edging up 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei was closed for a holiday.

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