By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were down sharply at midday on Wednesday as the first diagnosis of Ebola in a patient in the United States spooked investors and pressured shares of airlines and other transportation-related shares.
Small-cap stocks were seeing big losses for a second day, with the Russell 2000 index down 0.9 percent, now nearly 10 percent below its high.
Shares of American Airlines were down 2.2 percent while shares of Delta were down 2.4 percent. The Dow Jones Transportation Average was down 1.7 percent, on track for its biggest daily percentage decline since June.
“African travel isn’t a huge part of the travel industry, but it does seem like some parts of the industry are likely to be disrupted from this,” said Mitch Rubin, chief investment officer at RiverPark Advisors in New York.
Shares of a number of drugmakers with Ebola treatments in the pipeline were up sharply.
The CBOE Volatility index, Wall Street’s fear gauge, was up 2.2 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average was falling 186.98 points, or 1.1 percent, to 16,855.92, the S&P 500 was losing 16.14 points, or 0.82 percent, to 1,956.15 and the Nasdaq Composite was dropping 50.56 points, or 1.13 percent, to 4,442.83.
The largest percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange was Acuity Brands, rising 12.65 percent after reporting results, while the largest percentage decliner was Centrus Energy, down 18.71 percent.
Declining issues were outnumbering advancers on the NYSE by 1,852 to 1,142, for a 1.62-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,919 issues were falling and 667 advancing for a 2.88-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 3 new 52-week highs and 18 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 10 new highs and 184 new lows.
(Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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