Wall Street’s three major averages plunged on Monday as investors ran for safety after a surge in coronavirus cases outside China fanned worries about the global economic impact of a potential pandemic.

Investors sold riskier assets and rushed to traditionally safer bets such as gold and U.S. Treasuries after countries including Iran, Italy and South Korea reported a rise in virus cases over the weekend even as China eased curbs with no new cases reported in Beijing and other cities.

The benchmark S&P 500 index and the blue-chip Dow turned negative for the year to date and the Dow dropped more than 1,000 points, only the third time in its history for such a large decline in one day. Both the Dow and the S&P clocked their biggest one-day percentage declines since February 2018.

The technology heavy Nasdaq had the biggest percentage drop, down 3.71%.

“We’re not likely to make any progress higher until we have evidence the spread of the coronavirus is decelerating,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,031.61 points, or 3.56%, to 27,960.8, the S&P 500 lost 111.86 points, or 3.35%, to 3,225.89 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 355.31 points, or 3.71%, to 9,221.28.All of the 11 major S&P sectors closed in the red, led by the energy sector’s 4.7% decline and followed by a 4.2% drop in technology stocks.

Apple Inc slid 4.8% as data showed sales of smartphones in China tumbled by more than a third in January.

China-exposed chipmakers fell, with the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index dropping 4.8%, while concerns about growing travel curbs dragged the NYSE Arca Airline Index down 6%.

Of the S&P’s sectors, the defensive utilities, real estate and consumer staples indexes fell the least on the day.

Treasury yields fell to their lowest levels since 2016 as investors sought safety in government bonds, while the yield curve inversion between the 3-month and 10-year U.S. Treasuries deepened in what is often viewed as a recession predictor.

New York (Reuters)

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