The Standard & Poors 500, which tracks the top 500 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange, was down 1.5 percent at 3,246 by 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT) as investors piled into the relative safety of US Treasurys, gold and the Japanese yen amid a global risk flight from stocks and commodities.
Until last week, the S&P500, along with Wall Street’s two other key stock indexes, the Nasdaq Composite and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, had been hitting record highs regularly. The reversal finally came Friday when the S&P500 closed down almost 1 percent. It extended its slide in Monday’s session as China reported 80 deaths from the coronavirus, nearly 3,000 cases of infections and city lockdowns affecting more than 55 million people.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq lost more than the S&P500, sliding 1.7 percent to 9,158.
The Dow, the broadest stock gauge on Wall Street, was 1.4 percent lower at 28,600. The Dow dropped more than 500 points in Monday's first minute of trading, with CNBC reporting that “traders sold first and asked questions later”.
Wall Street began the year strongly, extending a powerful run-up from 2019, as bullish US economic data and a pre-election-year rally pushed US stocks to continuous record highs, beating anaemic rivals around the world.
The S&P500 rose 30 percent last year and is up 0.6 percent year-to-date. The Nasdaq jumped 36 percent in 2019 and is up 2 percent this year. The Dow gained 23 percent last year and is up 0.1 percent for 2020.