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US stock sell-off: Dow tumbles 940 points on rising infections

Investors grapple with economic damage and brace for election day

U.S. stocks fell during morning trading Wednesday as rising coronavirus cases around the world further eroded investor confidence.    © Reuters

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks closed sharply down on Wednesday as surging new coronavirus cases in the country raised fears of more economic damage from the pandemic.

All three major indexes are on track for their worst week since the week ending March 20.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 942 points, or 3.4%, while the broader S&P 500 index closed 3.5% lower. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 3.7%

Rising infections in the U.S. and Europe could mean tighter restrictions on economic activity, dealing a blow to a fragile recovery. 

Shares of hotels, airlines and other companies sensitive to the pandemic's impact sank.

Major European stock indexes also plunged as data showed the virus making a resurgence there. The sell-off spread to the U.S. market, where investors appear to be paring down their holdings ahead of election day next Tuesday.

Economically sensitive names like Caterpillar, Dow and Visa were among the biggest losers. 

Boeing announced further job cuts in anticipation of a continued slump in aircraft demand. Microsoft was also down sharply after issuing a quarterly revenue forecast that missed analyst estimates.

New U.S. COVID-19 cases topped 80,000 last Friday and Saturday, reaching new highs. They remained elevated at the 70,000 level on Tuesday, with notable increases in the Midwest.

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