Stocks Fall Sharply On Coronavirus Fears

Specialist Mark Fitzgerald works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Markets are down across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. as the virus spreads to more countries around the world.

Richard Drew/AP


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Richard Drew/AP

Specialist Mark Fitzgerald works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Markets are down across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. as the virus spreads to more countries around the world.

Richard Drew/AP

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

The coronavirus contagion has spread to Wall Street.

U.S. markets fell sharply Monday amid widening concern that the continuing spread of cases could lead to a global pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 900 points in the opening minutes of trading, before recovering some ground. All of the major market indexes were down more than 2.5%.

Stock markets in Europe and Asia were also down sharply.

Investors are spooked by the growing number of infections outside China, and the possible economic fallout if the epidemic cannot be contained. Growing clusters of coronavirus have been diagnosed in South Korea, Italy, and Iran.

South Korea in particular is a major economic player and a big supplier of components used by manufacturers around the world. The U.S. imported nearly $80 billion worth of goods from South Korea last year. Along with China and Japan, the country is a key supplier of computer and electronics products, fabricated metal products, and machinery.

In Italy, the number of reported infections ballooned from just three last week to more than 200, sparking fears of a wider spread in Europe. Italian authorities responded by canceling soccer matches, closing schools and ordering quarantines in a dozen northern towns.

Coronavirus was a main focus of discussion among G20 finance ministers, who held a previously scheduled meeting over the weekend in Saudi Arabia. In a communique, the finance ministers promised to monitor the outbreak, along with other risks to the global economy, and said they are prepared to take additional action as necessary.