Dow Plunges 710 on Familiar Surge Fears

John Divine


With dozens of states now seeing increases in new infections, the fear of a second surge suddenly registered with Wall Street as it actually materialized.

Importantly, the early U.S. hot spot of the pandemic, New York, is seeing encouraging virus trends. That's certainly good news -- especially considering the high population density and economic importance of New York City in particular -- but the growing evidence for surges in other parts of the country is very worrisome.

California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and other states are experiencing surges -- and investors are now worried this will pose a real risk to the widespread economic reopenings Wall Street hoped would reignite economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sold off steeply on the day, losing 710 points, or 2.7%, to finish at 25,445.

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Bayer's $10 billion headache. German pharmaceutical and life sciences company Bayer on Wednesday resolved one of the longest-running overhangs facing investors. Paying up to $10.9 billion, the company settled thousands of lawsuits in the U.S. from plaintiffs claiming its Roundup weed-killer caused cancer.

Bayer, which makes Bayer Aspirin and Aleve, acquired this headache back in 2018 when it bought the company that owned Roundup: Monsanto.

Kroger stock again thrives in chaos. Wednesday was not the first day that shares of U.S. grocer Kroger (ticker: KR) have been bid higher as the majority of the market takes a dive. A newfound favorite of defensive investors when Wall Street goes into "risk-off" mode, KR stock finished as the single best performer in the S&P 500 for the day, adding 2.2%.

Kroger has been one of the most resilient components in the benchmark index this year; it's up more than 10% in 2020.

In a familiar pattern that seems to repeat whenever investors flee risky assets, Kroger outperformed as more virus-sensitive stocks like Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings ( NCLH), Royal Caribbean Cruises ( RCL) and Carnival ( CCL) rounded out the day's three worst S&P 500 performers, all losing more than 11%.