Wall Street's roller coaster week continues: March 13, 2020

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4:40 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

Stocks record best day since 2008

It was the best day for stocks since 2008, but indexes still ended the week with sharp losses. This pretty much sums up the market volatility.

US stocks finished a turbulent week with gains on Friday, logging their best day since October 2008. Stocks rallied into the close after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency and announced measures taken together with the private sector to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

But despite Friday’s gains, Wall Street recorded losses this week.

  • The S&P 500 closed up 9.3% on Friday, logging a 8.8%% loss for the week.
  • The Dow finished 9.4%, or 1,985 points, higher. For the week, the index was down 10.4%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite ended up 9.4%, although it dropped 8.2% for the week.
4:34 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

New government measures calm markets ahead of close

With less than 15 minutes to go in the trading day, stocks headed higher again after new government measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak were revealed.

These measures include expanded testing and a website to communicate with the public on the issue.

The S&P 500 is now up 5.8%, while the Dow is up 5.7%, or 1,220 points. The Nasdaq Composite is up 5.4%.

4:14 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

Stocks pare gains as Trump declares national emergency

US stocks took back some of their gains on Friday afternoon as President Donald Trump announced a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump also urged states, as well as hospitals, to enact their emergency protocols.

Stocks briefly dropped more than 1% while Trump was speaking but remained in the green.

The S&P 500 was up 2.5%, while the Dow was up 2.9%, or 620 points.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 2.8%.

4:23 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

AMC theaters limit capacity to 50 percent

AMC, the country's largest theater chain, has instituted a "social distancing" policy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning Saturday, March 14, and continuing until the end of April, AMC will cut in half the seating capacity of every one of its theatre’s auditoriums by capping ticket sales, the company said in a press release.

AMC is also increasing cleaning efforts in theaters and at "high- touch point areas" including kiosks, counter tops, restroom areas, glass, handrails and doorknobs. 

"As the industry leader, AMC is taking aggressive, nationwide steps to provide additional space between guests within all its U.S. theatres, to keep its theatres clean and to discourage those with health concerns from coming to its theatres."

2:30 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

Major car manufacturers encourage employees to work from home

Like many other companies, Ford (F), General Motors (GM) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles(FCA) are encouraging employees to work from home if possible, to avoid potentially spreading or catching the coronavirus.

“If the nature of your work allows for it, we are asking all GM employees and contract workers to work remotely, beginning Monday, March 16,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a memo to employees.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler said they are also asking employees to work from home in locations around the world. These policies may not apply in China, the companies said, because workers in that country have already been dealing with the coronavirus for months. In China, the work situation is beginning to return to normal, Ford spokesman Mark Truby said.

Of course, none of this applies to workers whose jobs involve handing tools, sorting and shipping parts, testing prototype vehicles or many other jobs can’t be done from a kitchen table. All these companies’ factories remain open and, Ford’s Truby said, product development programs remain on schedule.  GM said it is adjusting work schedules for manufacturing and product development workers to allow for additional cleaning to keep the virus at bay.

Fiat Chrysler is making changes at  some at its plants to deal with the coronavirus threat. One worker at Fiat Chrysler’s Kokomo, Indiana, transmission factory tested positive for the virus.

“In manufacturing, we are changing our production techniques at several plants to enable greater space between employees at work-stations,” FCA CEO Mike Manley said in a note to employees.

Car dealerships are almost all independent businesses and are not owned by car manufacturers so these policies don’t apply to them. Dealerships will be dealing with this situation in their own ways.

2:19 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

Stocks defend gains in early afternoon

US stocks bounced slightly higher again in the early afternoon, taking back some gains they had given up just before noon.

Stocks had opened sharply higher this morning and have been in the green all day. Investors are anxiously awaiting President Donald Trump who is expected to speak at 3pm ET. The president could declare a national state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak.

The S&P 500 rose 4.2%, while the Dow was up 4.5%, or 950 points. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 4%.

1:18 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

The best S&P 500 stock of 2020 is...

The market isn’t a safe place lately – but cybersecurity company NortonLifeLock is soaring. Shares of NortonLifeLock (NLOK) are up nearly 20% in 2020. That's impressive given how stocks have plunged into a bear market on coronavirus fears.

NortonLifeLock is the consumer business of what used to be known as Symantec. Broadcom (AVGO) bought Symantec’s enterprise business last year and inherited the Symantec name.

NortonLifeLock reported strong earnings last month. "Our ambition is to protect everyone’s digital life in a hyper-connected world with constantly evolving cyber threats," said Vincent Pilette, NortonLifeLock’s CEO, in the earnings release.  

And the company could see even more demand for its software that helps protect against (computer) viruses, identity theft and phishing in light of the coronavirus.

"Cyber criminals will take advantage of public fear and due diligence health measures to generate coronavirus-themed phishing attacks. We should be aware of unsolicited COVID-19 emails with specious links or attachments,” says David Simpson, a cybersecurity expert and professor at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.

2:20 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

British Airways warns of job cuts

British Airways has become the latest major airline to warn of job cuts, as the coronavirus pandemic wipes out travel demand and plunges global carriers into crisis.

 “We are taking decisive steps to protect our cash position and to protect jobs,” CEO Alex Cruz said in an internal memo to employees. “To be frank, given the changing circumstances, we can no longer sustain our current level of employment and jobs will be lost – perhaps for a short period, perhaps longer term,” Cruz said.

 The BBC was first to report the memo. British Airways declined to comment but a source close to the company confirmed its authenticity to CNN.

 Cruz said the airline industry is facing a “crisis of global proportions,” warning that airlines with weak balance sheets “are facing a dire future.”

The news comes a day after US President Donald Trump imposed a 30-day ban on travel from most of Europe, a move that prompted budget carrier Norwegian Air to suspend over 4,000 flights and temporarily lay off up to half its workers.

1:03 p.m. ET, March 13, 2020

European markets close higher

European markets closed the day higher, but stocks gave up many of their early gains.

The FTSE 100 was up just over 1.6%, compared to an earlier high of more than 7%.

In Italy, while the FTSE MIB closed 7% higher, it had been up more than 10%. It comes after historic losses on Thursday, when the FTSE MIB lost 17%.

Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 also closed slightly higher.

Click here for a full market wrap up.