But then New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, announced 731 deaths overnight, its greatest single-day count. The spike follows two days of nearly flat numbers, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) suggested there could be a “lag” in the state’s data.
On Wall Street, the blue-chip index tipped 26.13 points, or 0.1 percent, in the red to close at 22,653.86. The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 0.16 percent, or 4.27 points, to settle at 2,659.41. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped 25.98 points, or 0.33 percent, to 7,887.26.
“There can be a lot of interim rallies and big declines within a broader trend,” said Michael Farr of Farr, Miller & Washington. “This market needs to find a floor and build a base … Everyone wants this crisis to be over, but wanting won’t make it end. The medical community has said that the virus will determine the schedule.”
The health crisis will continue to be the primary focus for investors, said Wayne Wicker, chief investment officer at Vantagepoint Investment Advisers. But fiscal policy is a close second, as lawmakers desperately try to shore up an economy that’s been brought to a virtual standstill.
Coming off Monday’s powerful rebound, “it gives opportunities to those who have felt like we might be a bit extended to sell,” Wicker said. “I think that’s what you saw today.”
Asian markets finished the day broadly higher, with Japan’s Nikkei 225, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and the Shanghai Composite index all closing up more than 2 percent. European markets closed up across the board, with the benchmark Stoxx 600 index climbing more than 1.8 percent and Germany’s DAX up nearly 2.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 also rose nearly 2.2 percent, despite news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been moved to intensive care during covid-19 treatment.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note climbed to 0.73 percent as investors turned to riskier investments. Yields rise when bond prices drop. But gold, another safe-haven in times of turmoil, was also trending up after notching its highest close in seven years Monday.
These small signs of recovery come just as the United States braces for peak infection, with the U.S. surgeon general warning Americans to steel themselves for one of the “hardest and saddest” weeks of their lives. But some data suggests the outbreak — which has killed more than 11,000 Americans so far — might not be as bad as initial projections suggested.
A leading forecasting model used by the White House to chart the coronavirus pandemic predicted Monday that the United States may need fewer hospital beds, ventilators and other equipment than previously projected and that some states may reach their peak of covid-19 deaths sooner than expected.
Experts and state leaders, however, noted that the model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington conflicts with many others showing larger numbers for equipment shortages, deaths and projected peaks.
More than 40 states have enacted stay-at-home orders, a vital public health measure that has cascaded through the U.S. economy. More than 10 million people filed jobless claims in the last two weeks of March, a record-shattering spike that eclipses highs set during the financial crisis.
“Investors have a choice,” said Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab. “Do they want to focus on the economic free fall in the U.S. and Europe, or do they want to focus on the recovery that’s underway in Asia?”
Businesses and households are now waiting for waves of government stimulus, which already has equaled 10 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, to flow in. But many small-business owners are reporting delays in securing loans, without which many will have close their doors permanently. The Internal Revenue Service has warned the $1,200 relief checks may not reach many Americans until August or September if they haven’t already provided direct-deposit information to the government.
The full scope of the economy’s losses will be clearer after the upcoming wave of first-quarter earnings reports. Sixty-four percent of the S&P 500′s sectors are projected be in the red, according to commentary from Sam Stovall of CFRA Research, while airlines, copper, department stores and leisure products are projected to post greater than 100 percent declines in earnings per share.