Wall Street opens sharply lower as risk aversion takes over

  • Coronavirus infections rose sharply after change in counting method.
  • CBOE Volatility Index rises more than 7% on Thursday.
  • Risk-sensitive energy and tech shares suffer heavy losses. 

Wall Street's main indexes started the day sharply lower on Thursday as resurfacing coronavirus fears weigh on risk-sensitive assets. As of writing, the CBOE Volatility Index, Wall Street's fear gauge, was up 7.3% on a daily basis to reflect the risk-averse environment.

China has reported a sharp upsurge in the number of confirmed coronavirus infection cases after changing the method of counting and triggered a flight-to-safety as investors realized that the outbreak would be more severe than initially anticipated.

Energy and tech shares underperform

At the moment, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.4% on the day, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite are erasing 0.3% and 0.5%, respectively. Among the 11-major S&P 500 sectors, the risk-sensitive Energy Index and the Technology Index are both down around 0.5%. On the other hand, the defensive Utilities Index is the only major sector in the positive territory in the early trade.

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