US stocks end lower amid spread of COVID-19

New York: US stocks finished lower in choppy trading amid the fast spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 410.32 points, or 1.84 per cent, to 21,917.16. The S&P 500 slid 42.06 points, or 1.60 per cent, to 2,584.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 74.05 points, or 0.95 per cent, to 7,700.10, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ten of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors closed lower, with utilities down 4.02 per cent, leading the laggards. Energy rose 1.63 per cent, the only gainer among the groups.

On the data front, US consumer confidence declined sharply due to a deterioration in the short-term outlook amid coronavirus uncertainty, New York-based The Conference Board reported on Tuesday.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index came in at 120.0 in March, down from 132.6 in February.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 180,000 Tuesday afternoon, according to data from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

US President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the national social distancing guidelines to April 30 amid warnings that the death toll from COVID-19 in the country might exceed 100,000.

The president on Friday signed a US $2 trillion stimulus bill, the largest stimulus package in US history, in an attempt to rescue the economy devastated by COVID-19.

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