NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks tumbled across the globe on Wednesday on concerns that rising COVID-19 cases in Europe, the United States and elsewhere will damage already-fragile economic recoveries, while the U.S. dollar rose on safe-haven bids.
Treasury yields fell alongside the price of oil and gold was under pressure from the rising dollar.
On Wall Street, the energy and technology sectors of the benchmark S&P 500 were among the hardest hit.
“Whether you call it a continuation of the pandemic or a third wave of new case discovery – it is the largest concern,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
“Unless and until we get through this pandemic, it is hard for investors to imagine a better economic time.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 808.89 points, or 2.95%, to 26,654.3, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 97.21 points, or 2.87%, to 3,293.47 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 333.79 points, or 2.92%, to 11,097.56.
European shares touched their lowest since late May as Germany and France prepared to announce restrictions approaching the level of the lockdowns in the spring, as COVID-19 deaths across Europe jumped almost 40% in a week.
Asian shares lost ground after initially showing some resilience, in part due to more limited COVID-19 outbreaks and better recoveries in the region’s major economies.
Concerns over a rising wave of COVID-19 infections played out in currency and bond markets, too, with the euro EUR=EBS slumping against the dollar.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.16% versus the greenback to 104.26 per dollar, while Sterling GBP= was last trading at $1.3, down 0.33% on the day.
Adding to the mood of uncertainty was the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has enjoyed a consistent lead over President Donald Trump ahead of the vote. Investors cautiously bet on his victory and a possible “blue wave” outcome, where Democrats control both chambers of Congress.
UBS strategist Vassili Serebriakov said a Biden administration would be seen as de-escalating trade tensions with traditional allies such as Europe and Canada, as well as China, which should improve market sentiment overall and weigh on the dollar as a safe haven.
Treasury yields fell as traders moved away from risk assets.
Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 3/32 in price to yield 0.7693%, from 0.778% late on Tuesday.
The rising coronavirus infections weighed on oil prices on fears of a supply glut and weaker fuel demand.
“Crude oil is under pressure from the increase in COVID-19 cases, especially in Europe, and a larger than expected storage build (in the U.S.),” said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.
Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru and Kate Duguid, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum