Market Extra: Dow risks longest Friday losing streak in 14 years as coronavirus has Wall Street dreading weekends

TGIF? That is hardly the case for Wall Street investors who own stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is on track for a dubious distinction if it finishes in negative territory tomorrow.

Friday sessions have been marked by dread among investors lately because of the uncertain landscape that the coronavirus outbreak has created heading into weekends.

In fact, if the 124-year-old blue-chip index

closes lower tomorrow, it will have put together its longest run of Friday losses, seven straight, since the string of eight straight Friday losses that ended July 2006, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

“Fridays have become the scariest day of the week because we know with a high percentage of certainty that there’s going to be more bad news, and we have seen how that manifests in equity valuations,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, told MarketWatch.

The viral outbreak that was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December has sickened nearly 98,000 people and claimed at least 3,300 lives so far, spreading around the globe.

A series of travel restrictions put in place by various governments as well as policies from large employers recommending that workers reconsider business and even personal trips in some instances is negatively impacting the travel industry and is likely to dent the global, if not the domestic, economy.

For that reason, the Federal Reserve cut benchmark interest rates on Tuesday by a half-point to the 1%-to-1.25% range, marking the first time the central bank has conducted an emergency rate cut since the 2008 financial crisis. Market participants are now anticipating another half-point cut at the Fed’s scheduled March 18 meeting.

Read:What the Fed’s surprise interest rate cut means for mortgage rates

The infectious disease is an exogenous factor that economists and investors are finding difficult to model, and weekends have come with a greater — though somewhat expected — degree of incidence increases outside of China and new steps by governments to limit the outbreak, which in turn threaten to slow down economic expansion.

See:Fed expected to continue cutting interest rates, beginning as soon as later this month

Testing for the illness hasn’t gotten under way robustly in the U.S. because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially distributed flawed tests, USA Today reported.

At least 206 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., and 11 have died, as of Wednesday, according to figures from the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering’s Centers for Systems Science and Engineering.

Large corporations including Google parent Alphabet Inc.


and Microsoft

have asked staffers to work from home, and shares of air carriers Delta Inc.

, American Airlines

and United Airlines Holdings Inc.

, as well as the travel site Tripadvisor Inc.

, have been hammered by flight cancellations and reduced business and personal travel.

Even before the coronavirus anxiety reached its recent apex, the Dow has been trading tentatively on Fridays. So far this year, the blue-chip benchmark has been down eight of the past nine Fridays:

Friday performance in 2020

% moves for the DJIA

Jan. 3


Jan. 10


Jan. 17


Jan. 24


Jan. 31


Feb. 7


Feb. 14


Feb. 21


Feb. 28


March 6


Source:FactSet and Dow Jones Market Data

On Thursday, markets appeared to set the stage for another down session, as the Dow closed at 26,121.28, down 969.58 points, or 3.6%, while the S&P 500

lost 106.18 points, 3.4%, to finish at 3,023.94. The Nasdaq Composite

fell 279.49 points, or 3.1%, to close at 8,738.60.

The big catalyst for markets this Friday may be any signs of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus impacting U.S. jobs. The U.S. likely added about 165,000 new jobs in February after a preliminary 225,000 gain in the first month of the year, according to economists surveyed by MarketWatch.

If there is a big deceleration in the pace of what had been heady gains in jobs, markets could indeed be in for another woeful Friday.

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