Stocks fell again Thursday as the economic impact of the global coronavirus spread becomes clearer to investors. The Dow dropped more than 970 points, or 3.6%, to around 26,120. The S&P 500-stock index declined around 3.4% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite dropped 3.1%. Those drops erased more than half of the gains investors had seen in Wednesday's rally.
What was driving the market lower on Thursday was a growing number of analysts who were using the R-word, predicting the coronavirus-led slowdown could propel the global economy, and the U.S., into a recession.
Oxford Economics said in a note to clients Thursday the firm had lifted its recession odds to 35% from 25% and cited the impact of the spreading coronavirus. "The rapid global spread of coronavirus has triggered severe financial market turbulence and intensified recession fears," Oxford analysts wrote.
Other forecasters were lowering their expectations for economic growth, although many still said the economic damage from the coronavirus could stop short of recession. The Institute of International Finance predicted U.S. economic growth would slow to 1.3% this year and that global expansion could hit its lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis.
A United Nations report released on Wednesday found that the impact of the novel coronavirus spread could cost the global economy as much as $50 billion.
Capital Economics, which advises institutional investors, estimates that a modest coronavirus outbreak lasting roughly three months would lower U.S. growth by 0.2% this year.
"Our current working assumption is still that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is restricted to the low tens of thousands which, in a country of more than 325 million, would represent an infection rate of less than 0.1%," the firm said. "Furthermore, we suspect that the number of cases will drop off again once summer arrives, meaning that the economic disruption would last for little more than one quarter."
A severe pandemic lasting upwards of 12 months would slam growth, according to the firm.