Dow falls 600 points to start second quarter as virus anxiety grows

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U.S. stock index futures sank on Wednesday following stark predictions of a rising U.S. death toll and economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak, a day after the S&P 500 ended its worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Americans of a “very, very painful” two weeks, with White House health officials modeling an enormous jump in virus-related deaths even with strict social distancing measures.

Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester said reports measuring U.S. economic activity are likely to be “very bad” in the first half of 2020 and the unemployment rate could rise above 10% due to efforts to stem the virus outbreak. The rapid worldwide spread of the disease has forced entire countries to shut down, stalling business activity and raising fears of corporate defaults. The S&P 500 lost about $7 trillion in market value to post its worst first quarter on record, while the Dow Jones .DJI ended Tuesday with its biggest quarterly fall since 1987. At 05:21 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 672 points, or 3.09%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 81.5 points, or 3.17% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 216 points, or 2.77%.

SPDR S&P 500 ETFs (SPY.P) were down 3.27%.

The S&P 500 index .SPX closed down 1.6% at 2,584.59​ on Tuesday.

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