Stocks slide as Wall Street braces for more coronavirus pain

US stocks slid Monday as Wall Street braced for a slew of ugly corporate earnings reports this week as the coronavirus continues to wreck the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped as many as 311.30 points, or 1.3 percent, in early trading ahead of the start of corporate America’s first-quarter earnings season, when big companies are expected to reveal how hard the pandemic has hit them. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite dipped as much as 1.1 and 0.6 percent, respectively, at the open.

The drops followed big gains for all three major stock indexes last week fueled by optimism about the coronavirus crisis slowing and the Federal Reserve’s latest effort to shore up the virus-battered US economy. The Dow ended the week up 2,666.84 points, or 12.6 percent, on Thursday while the S&P climbed 12.1 percent and the Nasdaq rose 10.5 percent.

But experts expect big companies to report sizable financial hits for the first quarter as the pandemic brought much of the global economy to a screeching halt. Analysts predict S&P 500 firms’ earnings will have dropped 9 percent in the first quarter, down from a gain of 6.3 percent that was forecast at the start of the year.

“As investor focus turns to the real economy, a reality check or two remains on the cards where the markets could end up showing investors all the mercy of a Greek tragedy,” Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp, wrote in a commentary.

Monday’s stock tumble came despite a historic agreement between Russia, Saudi Arabia and other oil producers to cut global oil production by 9.7 million barrels a day, effectively putting an end to an international price war.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 3.1 percent at $23.47 as of 9:32 a.m. after the deal was reached Sunday.

With Post wires

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