Stocks plunge into bear market territory: March 12, 2020

By CNN Business

Updated 6:55 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020
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6:23 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Lamborghini closes factories and headquarters as virus hits northern Italy

From CNN Business' Peter Valdes-Dapena

The Lamborghini Special Super on the automaker's Huracán production line.

Lamborghini is closing its closing its headquarters as well as both its factories in the face of Northern Italy’s coronavirus crisis.

They will remain closed until at least March 25, the company said. The facilities are located together in Sant’Agata Bolognese near Bologna in Northern Italy.

"This is an act of social responsibility and high sensibility towards our people, in the extraordinary situation in which we find ourselves in Italy, and which is also evolving abroad,” Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali said in a statement Thursday.

One factory produces Lamborghini’s famous supercars, the Aventador and the Huracán. The other factory produces the new Lamborghini Urus SUV. Together, the two factories turn out about 8,000 cars a year.

That's a tiny figure compared to most car factories, such as that of parent company Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Germany, which turns out 3,500 cars a day. But Lamborghinis cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and the great majority are built to order. The two factories and the company’s headquarters employ about 1,800 people.

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) temporarily closed four plants in Italy as the novel coronavirus takes its toll there. On Wednesday, the Italian-American automaker said in a statement that plants will be closed and production rates reduced "to support the nationwide campaign addressing the Covid-19 crisis."

4:31 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Back to zero: Fed could make dramatic cuts very soon to stop the panic

From CNN Business' Matt Egan

Wall Street is betting the Federal Reserve will respond to the coronavirus panic by returning to 2008-style interest rates.

Barclays predicted Thursday the Fed will slash interest rates by a full percentage point to zero at next week's meeting -- if not earlier, in an emergency action.

"Given the ongoing weakness in investor sentiment and deterioration in market functioning, we now believe a more aggressive response is warranted," Barclays economists wrote in a note to clients.

It was almost unthinkable just a few weeks ago that the Fed would need to go back to zero in 2020. Now, the market is pricing in a return to zero, not later this year but imminently.

After the Dow suffered its worst day since 1987 on Thursday, the market priced in a 95% chance the Fed cuts rates to a range of zero to 0.25%, according to the CME FedWatch Tool. That compares with no chance of that just a week ago: a truly stunning reversal.

And the Fed is taking other dramatic steps to calm panicky markets. It promised to pump $1.5 trillion into financial markets Thursday and effectively relaunched the 2008-era bond buying program known as quantitative easing, or QE.

4:19 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

How long will this bear market last?

From CNN Business' Tal Yellin

It’s hard to know exactly how long the new bear market will last. The average bear market has lasted 21 months, with the shortest in 1990 and the longest beginning in 1937.

Here's how long previous bear markets have lasted:

4:18 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

The longest bull market in American history is over after 11 years

From CNN Business' Tal Yellin

Less than a month after hitting a high of 3,386 on February 19, the S&P 500 sold off sharply, falling more than 25% as novel coronavirus spreads around the world. An oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia also emerged, threatening US shale producers and exacerbating selling over the past week.

The S&P 500 closed below 2,708.92, officially marking the end of the bull rally and the start of the new bear market. Here are the previous 13 bear markets since 1929.

4:19 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Extreme fear has consumed the stock market

From CNN Business' David Goldman

CNN Business' Fear and Greed Index sits at "2" out of 100. That's just about as fearful as the market can get.

The VIX volatility index soared 39.5% Thursday to its highest level since October 2008 during one of the scariest moments of the global financial crisis.

5:00 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Wall Street's 11-year bull market comes to a screeching halt: Stocks plummet

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

US stocks recorded their worst day since 1987 Thursday as worries about the coronavirus pandemic mounted.

Wall Street officially fell into a bear market with the S&P 500 dropping more than 20% from its February 19 peak. The Dow, a smaller index than the S&P, fell into a bear market Wednesday.

That officially ended the 11-year bull market -- the longest in history -- which started in March 2009.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 closed down 9.5%. It was its worst day since October 19, 1987, also known as “Black Monday”.

The index dropped 7% in the first minutes of trading, which triggered a circuit breaker and led the New York Stocks Exchange to suspend trading for 15 minutes.

The Dow was down 2,353 points, nearly 10% lower, in its biggest one-day percentage drop since “Black Monday." The index is at its lowest level since the summer of 2017.

The Nasdaq Composite closed down 9.4%. It is now also in a bear market.

3:53 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Wall Street is on track for a bear market

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

With only minutes left in the trading day, Wall Street is on course to close in a bear market.

Only the Dow slipped into a bear market Wednesday, but now the S&P 500 -- the broadest measure of the US stock market -- is squarely in bear territory as well. A bear market is defined at 20% below the most recent peak, which for the major US indexes was in February. The pace at which the market has gone from record highs to a bear is remarkably fast.

The S&P 500 was down 7.7%, while the Dow was 8.3%, or 1,945 points, lower with just minutes remaining in the session.

4:01 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Uber, JCPenney, Kraft Heinz top long list of stock hitting new all-time lows

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

The stock market was at an all-time high just a month ago and many blue chip companies were hitting records constantly. What a difference the novel coronavirus makes.

Today, there are many blue chip companies plunging to new all-time lows. And the list could keep growing. There seems to be no end in sight to the sell-off, despite more moves by the Federal Reserve to try and prop up the market.

Here are just a few of the most well-known stocks that fell to their lowest point ever today -- courtesy of Barchart.

2:56 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Small Business Administration to provide disaster assistance loans

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The Small Business Administration announced it would provide disaster assistance loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

These loans offer up to $2 million per small business and "can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing," the SBA said in a statement.

The loans are intended to pay debts, accounts payable and bills, as well as payroll, that can't be paid because of coronavirus. They will carry an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profit organizations.