Financial markets stabilize after weeks of losses

Financial markets closed up on Thursday after a steep selloff Wednesday.

March 19, 2020, 4:47 PM

U.S. financial markets stabilized a bit on Thursday after Wednesday's steep selloff as the coronavirus crisis continues to upend Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 188 points, almost 1%, when trading closed. The S&P 500 closed up nearly 0.5% and the Nasdaq gained about 2.3%.

While equity markets exited their free fall, Thursday's gains didn't compensate for Wednesday's losses, when the Dow closed down by more than 1,300 points, about 6.3%, as volatility continued amid the pandemic.

Among the best performers Thursday were McDonald's, Disney and Goldman Sachs, which all saw gains of more than 6%. Among the worst performers were Walgreens Boots Alliance, Coca-cola and Pfizer.

The Dow on Wednesday fell below 20,000 for the first time since February 2017, and at one point trading was briefly halted after the S&P 500 fell below the 7% threshold. The S&P 500 lost almost 5.2% for the day.

The coronavirus pandemic has also pushed the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq into bear market territory. In just weeks, all three indices tumbled roughly 25% from February highs.

The ongoing volatility comes even after the Federal Reserve has pulled out all the stops to help boost the economy during the COVID-19-induced uncertainty. The Fed announced approximately half a dozen actions it would take in the past week, including everything from slashing interest rates and launching a short-term lending facility.

PHOTO: Traders work during the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on March 18, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City.
Traders work during the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on March 18, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City.
Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab, described the recent volatility as "a market that has nothing to hold onto to steady it."

"The economic data won't show anything positive for quite a while, and markets can't really give any credible outlook on earnings right now," he told ABC News Wednesday.

While the markets may bounce around based on the headlines, he added that "it's unlikely to bottom until we see that peak in new virus cases, so we just don't know when that will be."