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Investors unleashed their coronavirus fears Wednesday, sending U.S. markets into a tailspin.

Nearly every asset class — stocks, bonds, gold, oil — came under siege as investors fled to the safety of cash. The weeks-long panic has hollowed out a big chunk of the stock gains from the bull market and erased virtually all of the equity advances under the Trump presidency.

Nothing was spared. Oil prices looked like they were reliving the 1970s, dropping 24 percent to near $20 per barrel for the commodity’s third-biggest rout in history. All 11 Standard & Poor’s sectors were in the red. The day’s poorest performers were in the travel and tourism sphere: Marriott down 34 percent. United Airlines, 33 percent. MGM Resorts, 30 percent. Alaska Air, 32 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 1,334 points, about 6.3 percent. The blue-chip index plunged 2,300 at the bottom of its day.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which Thursday will mark one month since its all-time high, fell nearly 5.2 percent. The broad index triggered a halt in trading earlier in the day after a 7 percent decline. After trading resumed, markets plunged White House plans to bail out embattled industries and cut checks to Americans failed to quell investor fears about the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus. The tech-heavy Nasdaq sank 4.7 percent.

9:41 p.m.
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The Bay Area ordered millions to shelter in place. Elon Musk had Tesla employees report to work anyway.

About two weeks ago, as stock markets plunged, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “The coronavirus panic is dumb.”

That attitude appeared to stretch into this week. Despite a Bay Area-wide shelter-in-place order, he and other Tesla workers continued to work at the company’s factory in Fremont, part of Alameda County. The move places Musk in an unusual standoff with local officials, who have said the factory does not qualify as “essential business,” the exemption for the roughly seven million residents who are otherwise supposed to remain in place.

Violation of the order carries a potential misdemeanor charge. “They are not essential during the health crisis,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, which is handling Coronavirus-related inquiries for the county. “It’s not an issue that we are going to take lightly considering the fact that it’s a big employer in the state and the county with 10,000 employees that come in every day to work in the factory.”

Other tech giants including Apple, Google and Facebook headquartered in the counties affected by the order said they were sending workers home last week even before residents were ordered to shelter-in-place. Musk appeared to be the only tech CEO to resist drastic changes. Late Monday, Musk sent an email to staff saying he would be at work on Tuesday. "First, I’d like to be super clear that if you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please don’t feel obligated to come to work,” he wrote in an email to staff late Monday, according to the website Electrek, which obtained the memo shortly after it was sent. "I will personally be at work, but that is just me. Totally OK if you want to stay home for any reason.”

9:04 p.m.
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Analysis: Trump took credit during Wall Street’s highs, but what about its lows?

Financial experts had warned President Trump against taking credit for Wall Street’s extraordinary bull run since the beginning of his administration. The foremost reason for this is that commanders in chief have very little actual control over what happens in the markets.

But from a purely political standpoint, presidents have tended to avoid claiming too much credit for the markets because stocks that go up inevitably come down. That’s a lesson Trump may be learning this week: On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed within 75 points of his Inauguration Day close.

Nearly of the Trump-era gains, in other words, have been erased.

8:33 p.m.
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Senate passes paid sick leave bill as coronavirus upends labor market

The Senate passed a bill that would ensure paid leave benefits to many Americans as the coronavirus outbreak upends the labor market. The legislation now goes to President Trump for enactment.

The measure, already approved by the House, secured bipartisan support, but lawmakers are already writing new legislation to try to rescue the economy — a sign of how quickly the economy is deteriorating. The Senate passed the bill 90-8.

8:22 p.m.
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Ford, General Motors will halt production to slow the spread of the coronavirus

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors will halt production at all North American factories for at least two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Reuters and CNBC separately reported that Chrysler, the third company that makes up the Big Three U.S. car manufacturers, would also cease production.

A Chrysler spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An earlier statement from the United Auto Workers said the company had agreed to a “rotating partial shutdown” that would allow for extensive deep cleaning of facilities between shifts and had staggered shifts to minimize workers’ contact with one another.

8:06 p.m.
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Delta Air Lines to cut 70 percent of domestic flights

Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian warned employees and investors to brace for rough times ahead, writing in an internal memo Wednesday that the carrier expected March revenue to be down $2 billion from March 2019 and that April revenue could crater even more.

The company plans to cut back on 70 percent of the its domestic flights as demand softens, Bastian wrote, and will cut international flights by 80 percent in the next two to three months.

Delta’s stock was down nearly 30 percent in another volatile day on Wall Street. It’s share price, around $22.50, was off almost $37 per share from its value at the start of the year.

“Cash preservation remains our top financial priority right now,” Bastian wrote. “Making swift decisions now to reduce the losses and preserve cash will provide us the resources to rebound from the other side of this crisis and protect Delta’s future.”

In that vain, he wrote, the company plans to hunker down and try to save $4 billion in cash in the coming quarter. It is idling more than 600 aircraft and closing down the majority of its Delta Sky Club premium lounges. Various company leaders have taken voluntary pay cuts and the company’s board of directors agreed to forgo its salary for six months.

Bastian also encouraged employees to take voluntary leave, writing that such breaks are “one of the best and most immediate ways you can help as we strive to protect jobs and pay.” The company was not yet at a point, he wrote, to make any assurances over job cuts and compensation security.

But Delta’s plan to weather the coming financial hardship is reliant upon bailout funds from Congress to support the airline industry. The Trump Administration has floated a plan to send $50 billion to the airline industry as part of a $1 trillion conoravirus-rebound stimulus package.

The airline industry’s advocacy group said carriers needed another $25 billion in loans and tax relief. Airports have also asked for their own bailout program.

Bastian wrote that he was “optimistic that our industry will receive support to help address this crisis.”

But Democrats have signaled they’re not on board with that kind of rescue package without “major strings attached,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), including protections for consumers, front line workers and regional carriers.

7:49 p.m.
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Suspension of visa processing for Mexican seasonal workers hits U.S. farms, fisheries

American farmers were bracing Wednesday for a shortage of seasonal workers following the State Department’s suspension of routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing in Mexico, including for temporary migrant laborers.

The delay in visa processing for farmworkers comes just as harvest season begins in Florida. The seafood industry, including fisheries and crab-picking in Maryland, whose hiring season starts in April, will also be affected by the U.S. government’s decision.

The American Farm Bureau Federation warned that the suspension in visa processing in Mexico could have a major effect on agricultural production.

California is likely to be hardest hit, bringing in only half of the migrant labor it will need, according to Jason Resnick, vice president and general counsel for Western Growers, a trade group.

Many seasonal workers will still be granted entry. The State Department is allowing laborers with previous work experience in the United States and who do not require in-person interviews to return, according to the federation. In 2019, 258,000 migrant workers received H-2A visas, the vast majority of whom were from Mexico.

6:22 p.m.
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Accelerating layoffs fuel a surge in unemployment claims

Layoffs are mounting by the tens of thousands, prompting a surge of applications at unemployment offices nationwide, as coronavirus brings more of the U.S. economy to a standstill.

The deluge at state unemployment offices is beginning to strain systems.

In Ohio, the Department of Job and Family Services said 36,645 claims were filed Monday. That’s typically what the department receives each month, The Columbus Dispatch noted. Pennsylvania saw more than 50,000 on Monday and even more on Tuesday, according to a tally from economist Jacob Robbins and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Minnesota officials saw more than 31,000 applications on Monday and Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported. In New Jersey, 15,000 application arrived on Monday, causing the state’s website to crash, local affiliate WHYY reported.

5:46 p.m.
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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac put 60-day freeze on foreclosures and evictions

Homeowners with mortgages backed by two government-controlled companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will not face foreclosure or eviction for the next 60 days, a government regulator announced Wednesday.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back more than half of the nation’s mortgages and have operated under government conservatorship since the global financial crisis. The announcement by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, is the government’s latest response to the economic damage being caused by the spread of the coronavirus.

The move will allow borrowers “to stay in their homes during this national emergency,” Mark Calabria, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said in a statement.

FHFA had previously said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would allow borrowers affected by the coronavirus to have their mortgage payments put into forbearance for as long as a year. Borrowers “should reach out to their mortgage servicers as soon as possible,” Calabria said.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a crucial part in the housing market, buying mortgages from lenders, then packaging them into securities to sell to investors. The government seized control of both in 2008 as the housing market unraveled and their losses piled up.

5:30 p.m.
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Rich dividends at oil companies could be at risk

Low prices from Saudi-Russian price war are taking toll across the industry. The price of oil is plunging so deeply that even big names like Chevron, ExxonMobil and BP are going to feel the pain, analysts say.

Company profits are closely tied to the price of oil, which is in a free fall below $30 per barrel because of a Saudi Arabian-Russia price war. Then there’s the coronavirus hibernation that is keeping cars parked. With tons of oil and nobody driving, lower oil prices are decimating a huge industry. The carnage is reflected in the share price of all the supermajors as well as the rest of the oil patch.

“Exxon and Chevron have already cut capital spending,” said John Kilduff of Again Capital. “If prices stay low, they are going to have to look at reducing dividends.”

BP’s share price is so low that its dividend yield, which is the dividend as a percentage of share price, has risen to a whopping 13 percent. Chevron’s yield is over 7 percent. Exxon is 10 percent.

Debt-laden Occidental Petroleum is trading below $10 per share, a fraction of its 52-week high of almost $69. Oxy slashed its quarterly dividend by 86 percent earlier this month, but the company still faces a hefty payment to Warren Buffett for funding Oxy’s purchase of Anadarko Petroleum last year — a deal that is looking worse by the day.

5:14 p.m.
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Global markets tank despite raft of stimulus packages

Overseas markets were battered by losses Wednesday, even as governments unleashed trillions in stimulus funding to cushion businesses and workers against the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus.

Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom have unleashed more than $1.5 trillion in business loans and rescue package funding to help buoy their economies. French President Emmanuel Macron went so far as to promise that no French company will be allowed to fail because of the coronavirus impact, saying the government would provide assistance through loans, delayed tax payments or even nationalize industries to keep them afloat.

“The response from the various authorities is not going to prevent job losses or companies going bust but they will help significantly reduce the number of casualties,” Craig Erlam, an analyst with OANDA, wrote in commentary Wednesday. “For that reason, the enormous measures announced are extremely encouraging, but as far as investors are concerned right now, it’s too early to get excited.”

The benchmark Stoxx 600 index sank more than 4.3 percent in midday trading. Germany’s CAC40 plummeted more than 6.2 percent, while Britain’s FTSE 100 sank more than 4 percent.

“Ultimately no amount of cash or measures to mitigate the economic impact of the crash can tell investors what they want to know right now, which is when daily life will return to normal (or even a new normal),” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, wrote in commentary Wednesday.

New coronavirus cases are on the decline in China, where the virus first surfaced late last year. But that has brought little comfort to investors as global cases surged past 200,000 Tuesday and the global economy limped closer to a recession.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed down nearly 4.2 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi sank 4.8 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite index and Japan’s Nikkei 225 finished the day down 1.8 and 1.7 percent, respectively. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 took steeper losses, closing down 6.5 percent as the Australian dollar sank to its lowest level in 17 years.

4:43 p.m.
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Senate Democrats raise privacy concerns with Google, White House about coronavirus screening service

A coronavirus screening service launched by Google’s sister company Verily this week is raising red flags on Capitol Hill, where five senior Senate Democrats are questioning whether the tech giant is properly safeguarding patients’ data.

Lawmakers’ concerns center around a new tool that allows people in the San Francisco Bay Area to input their symptoms, and if they show signs of coronavirus, obtain testing. Verily, the health subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, unveiled the portal Monday after President Trump touted it days earlier.

But congressional Democrats including New Jersey Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and California Sen. Kamala Harris, say they aren’t clear what Google plans to do with the data it collects — and whether information the company obtains, or possibly harnesses from users’ browsing habits, might be used for a range of purposes that people might not expect.

To that end, lawmakers asked Google as well as the Trump administration in letters Wednesday to explain the privacy protections in place and how Google’s effort would be monitored.

4:30 p.m.
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Perspective: What it means when the Fed cuts interest rates

In normal times, a cut in the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate would be met with enthusiasm by borrowers, because it means that the cost of credit is coming down.

But these aren’t normal times.

On Sunday, the Federal Reserve announced it would cut the federal funds rate to a range of zero to 0.25 percent in an effort to encourage the flow of credit to consumers and small businesses. The move landed like a thud.

Businesses are closing and consumers are being asked to sequester themselves at home to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. People are purchasing less, and, as a result, the rate cut’s impact will be blunted.

The Post’s personal finance columnist explains what this means for consumers: Read more here.

3:29 p.m.
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More lifesaving ventilators are available. Hospitals just can’t afford them.

Hospitals are holding back from ordering more medical ventilators because of the high cost for what may be only a short-term spike in demand from the coronavirus epidemic, industry specialists say, intensifying an anticipated shortage of a lifesaving piece of equipment for patients who become critically ill.

The lack of ventilators — and growing calls for a more aggressive government role to fill the gap — was a subject of tense exchanges this week between President Trump and state officials.

Mechanical ventilators, which help patients breathe or breathe for them, are considered critical to the nation’s effort to contain the worst effects of the pandemic, and avoid a crisis like the one Italy is facing. But depending on how bad the coronavirus pandemic gets in the United States, individual cities could come up thousands of ventilators short as patients flood hospitals, researchers say.

2:57 p.m.
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Honda temporarily shutters 12 production plants as demand slows

Japanese carmaker Honda plans to take 12 North American manufacturing plants offline from March 23 to the end of the month in anticipation of a slowdown in demand for cars and service parts, the company announced Wednesday.

More than 27,000 workers will be affected by the shutdown, though the company said they would continue to be paid during the stoppage, which will reduce production by close to 40,000 vehicles. Honda will use that time to “continue deep cleaning of its production facilities and common areas to further protect associates upon their return to the plants,” it said in a statement.

In the U.S., seven factories will be hit by the temporary closure, including four in Ohio and one each in Alabama, Georgia and Indiana. Three plants will close in Canada and two in Mexico.

“This production adjustment also will allow Honda associates to better prepare and adjust family plans in relation to regional directives to close schools to stop the spread of the [covid 19] virus,” Honda said in a statement. “This will enable working parents to determine how best to manage the needs of children staying home from school and other required lifestyle adjustments.”

Honda was the second automaker to announce a production slowdown on Wednesday. Volkswagen, the world’s largest car company, said it would close its European manufacturing plants on Thursday due to supply-chain disruptions and falling demand caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus. North American plants would remain open, the company told The Washington Post.