Here we go again.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down 978.61, or 3.8 percent, to 24,788.03 in the first hour of trading, leaving Blue Chip stocks off 14.5 percent for the week and recalling the wild swings last seen doing the 2008 financial crisis.
Fashion has been hit particularly hard, as companies rely on China as both a supplier and for customers. And while many brands took something of a breather and fared better than the overall market, some were still doing worse.
Among the hardest hit were Walmart Inc., down 5.3 percent to $104.59; Target Corp., 4.2 percent to $101.29; Revolve Group, 4.4 percent to $14.90, and Lululemon Athletica Inc., 4.4 percent to $211.11.
Overall markets in Europe were being hit even harder. The FTSE 100 in London traded down 4.9 percent to 6,466.23 as the CAC 40 in Paris dropped 4.6 percent to 5,244.34 and the FTSE MIB lost 4.4 percent to 21,787.73.
The European decliners included Tod’s, down 4.3 percent to 30.90 euros, Hermès International, 3.3 percent to 620.00 euros, and Burberry Group, 3.3 percent to 16.21 pounds.
And in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 was down 3.7 percent to 21,142.96.
The massive declines mark a stark difference to the position investors took just a few weeks ago, with markets much calmer when the coronavirus outbreak seemed more contained in China.
Now outbreaks in Italy and beyond as well as a new unexplained case in the U.S. have health officials warning that of “when” not “if” the coronavirus becomes more widespread.
Still, the illness in most people presents itself as the flu or a mild cold, although severe cases have proven to be much more deadly than the seasonal flu. Many U.S. fashion editors and executives returning from Milan, where there was an outbreak, have been told to work from home for two weeks before returning to work.
Consumer spending in the U.S. appears to be holding up for now, but the fashion industry could be hit much harder if people don’t feel safe in stores.