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Price War In Oil Has The Stock Market Reeling – “It Feels Like ’07-’08 When Every Weekend It Felt Like The Bottom Was Falling Out”

Plus, cruise stocks are in free-fall, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey get’s to keep his job.

Stocks cratered to start Monday with the Dow crashing 1,661 points, or 6.4%, putting it on pace for its worst day since December 2008. The S&P 500 plunged 6.2%, while the Nasdaq traded 5.2% lower.

The S&P 500 sank more than 7% just minutes after the open this morning, triggering circuit breakers that temporarily halted trading to prevent a further plunge. Since its all-time high reached on February 19, the S&P 500 is down roughly 18%. The market resumed trading at 9:49am ET, with stocks continuing their decline and the Dow briefly dropping more than 2,000 points as a full-blown oil price war rattled financial markets already on edge over the rapidly spreading coronavirus. “It is pretty nuts right now,” said Amy Wu Silverman, equity derivatives strategist at RBC Capital Markets. “It feels like ’07-’08 when every weekend it felt like the bottom was falling out.”

Oil prices plunged more than 30% after the breakup of the OPEC+ alliance triggered an all-out price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia as the former allies pledged swift retribution for the collapse of the cartel’s meeting in Vienna last week. The price war saw crude prices fall as low as $27.34 per barrel Monday morning, prompting some strategists to see oil prices cratering to $20 per barrel this year. “The situation we are witnessing today seems to have no equal in oil market history,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “A combination of a massive supply overhang and a significant demand shock at the same time.” Elsewhere, the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield resumed its historic slide on Monday as investors continued to flood into safe havens, with the yield briefly falling to 0.32%.

Cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. surged to more than 566 over the weekend, with global cases climbing to at least 111,300. As the outbreak continues to weigh on markets, Credit Suisse cut its market forecast for the year on Monday, and said that earnings growth for U.S. companies will likely fall to near-zero. The firm said that what started as a supply chain disruption has evolved into a “global demand shock,” adding that there’s likely “further downside to stock prices over the near-term” before markets turn a corner in the second half of the year. And former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said this morning that the U.S. will likely need a “massive financial package” to curb COVID-19 as the outbreak spreads past the point of containment. “The goal is to try to make sure that the peak of this epidemic, and we are headed for an epidemic here in the United States, doesn’t become so large that you’ve exhausted the health-care system,” Gottlieb said. “We still have a narrow window of opportunity to implement tough mitigation steps that could prevent a very wide epidemic in the United States, but we’re losing time.”

Cruise stocks are plummeting after the U.S. warned Americans to stay away from cruise ships as the coronavirus outbreak spreads. Shares of Royal Caribbean Cruises are down nearly -22%, Norwegian Cruise Line shares are down more than -17%, and Carnival is down more than -16%. Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health said Sunday, “If you’re a person with an underlying condition and you are particularly an elderly person with an underlying condition, you need to think twice about getting on a plane, on a long trip, and not only think twice, just don’t get on a cruise ship.” A cruise ship operated by Carnival’s Princess Cruises, the Grand Princess, is expected to begin disembarkation at the Port of Oakland today after officials confirmed at least 20 people on board the ship had the coronavirus. Most of the Grand Princess’ 2,400 passengers will be sent to quarantine centers set up at four military bases across the country with those requiring immediate medical attention being sent to area hospitals.

Twitter shares are up 3.5% at the time of writing after the social media company announced it has reached a deal with investment firms Elliott Management and Silver Lake following Elliott’s attempt to oust CEO Jack Dorsey. The deal includes a $1 billion investment in Twitter from Silver Lake, which the company will use to fund a $2 billion share repurchase program, and Dorsey will stay on as CEO. Both investment firms will be awarded a seat on Twitter’s board and the company will search for a third new independent director with expertise in technology and artificial intelligence. According to the agreement, Twitter will also create a temporary committee “that will build on our regular evaluation of Twitter’s leadership structure,” evaluate a succession plan with Dorsey, and make recommendations on the company’s corporate governance, including the potential elimination of its staggered board. 

Stocks We’re Watching

Enzo Biochem (NYSE: ENZ):  Enzo Biochem shares gained as much as 68% on Friday and are up nearly 19% this morning after the company announced that it will begin accepting respiratory specimens this week for its in-house test for the coronavirus. “Clinical laboratories play a vital role in combatting serious challenges to public health, including those posed by COVID-19,” said Enzo Biochem CEO Dr. Elazar Rabbani. “We are pleased to be able to rapidly respond to the urgent need for this test and we remain committed to working with our industry partners to address this challenge.”

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