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Stock market live Wednesday: Stocks close near lows, Dow drops more than 900, Nasdaq sheds 3.7%

Stocks dropped on Wednesday amid widespread selling as a record number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad sent jitters through the market. The major averages closed near their lows of the day, dropping more than 3% each.

Wednesday's sell-off by the numbers

  • Dow closed down 3.43% for its fourth straight negative day and worst day since June 11 when the Dow lost 6.9%
  • Dow is down 6.41% this week, on pace for its worst week since March 20 when the Dow lost 17.3%
  • Dow is 10.31% below its intraday all-time high of 29,568.57 from Feb. 12
  • S&P 500 closed down 3.53% for its third straight negative day and worst day since June 11 when the S&P lost 5.89%
  • S&P is down 5.61% this week, on pace for its worst week since March 20 when the S&P lost 14.96%
  • Nasdaq closed down 3.73% for its worst day since Sept. 8 when the Nasdaq lost 4.11%  
  • Nasdaq is down 4.71% this week, on pace for its worst week since March 20 when the Nasdaq lost 12.64%
  • Nasdaq is 8.86% below its intraday all-time high of 12,074.07 from Sept. 2
  • VIX hits a high of 40.7 Wednesday, its highest level since June 15 when the VIX hit a high of 44.44
  • All 11 sectors were negative led by tech, which fell 4.33% for its worst day since Sept. 8. — Gina Francolla

Stocks drop, close at session lows

Stocks slid deeper into the red during the final minutes of trading on Wednesday to close right around the lows of the day. The Dow dropped 942 points for a loss of 3.43%. The S&P 500 slid 3.52%, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 3.73%. — Pippa Stevens

Oil drops more than 5% to lowest level in three weeks

Oil prices declined on Wednesday as Covid-19 cases rise in the U.S. and abroad, stoking fears that demand for crude will decline. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil benchmark, settled 5.5%, or $2.18, lower at $37.39 per barrel, its lowest level in three weeks. International benchmark Brent crude declined 5.05% to $39.12 per barrel. Rising U.S. inventory also pressured prices, as did an increase in Libyan production.

"Covid-19 restriction measures are in the driving seat of oil price formation still, with the U.S. election in a firm second place, followed by other news such as Libya, crude stock numbers and M&A merger news in the upstream industry," noted Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets at Rystad Energy. "With so much uncertainty from all angles, the coming weeks will be crucial for oil, so tighten your seatbelts as the election night is across the corner and Covid-19 infection news race," he added. — Pippa Stevens

Final hour of trading: Dow down 800 points

With about an hour left in Wednesday's volatile trading, major equity averages were sharply lower, although they were slightly off their worst levels. The Dow traded 820 points lower after falling 908 points at its session low, on pace for its fourth straight day of losses. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both shed 3%. — Yun Li

Coronavirus cases are up, but the economy is still doing OK: MKM's Darda

MKM Partners' Michael Darda noted that even though coronavirus infections are rising in the U.S. and Europe, the global economic landscape is still solid. "We are not (yet) seeing any problematic signals from our liquidity/economic momentum indicators," Darda, the firm's chief economist, said in a note.

He pointed out that the spread between the 30-year U.S. bond and the 5-year rate is close to its 2020 highs and copper prices are still above their January levels.

"Selling into weakness is likely the wrong thing to do here," Darda said. "As of this afternoon, each of our models … show upside in equities. This doesn't mean the sell-off cannot go further; pullbacks sometimes morph into corrections." —Fred Imbert, Michael Bloom

German officials announce restrictions for four weeks

The leaders of Germany's regional governments agreed to a four-week partial lockdown that will include the shuttering of bars, restaurants and theaters to combat a rise in Covid-19 cases, according to the Associated Press. The new rules will begin on Monday. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce new restrictions in that country later Wednesday. — Jesse Pound

German DAX closes down more than 4%

Germany's DAX stock index lost 4.2% on Wednesday as rising Covid cases worldwide weakened the European markets. Wednesday's close dropped the index to its lowest level since late May. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Wednesday for a limited lockdown. — Maggie Fitzgerald

Senate results key to market uncertainty, JPMorgan says

While Democratic candidate Joe Biden remains ahead in the polls against President Donald Trump, uncertainty in the market should be more tied to the outcome of Senate races across the country, according to a note from JPMorgan. If Republicans hold onto the Senate or force run-offs in certain races, it would lower the odds of a large fiscal package from a Biden administration, according to the note.

"If Republicans have a strong showing on Election Day, the Senate may not be decided until January as run- off elections will likely be necessary for certain states like Georgia. Fiscal expectations remain tethered to the Senate outcome as execution of any policy agenda relies increasingly on uniform control of government," the note said. — Jesse Pound

Stocks making the biggest moves midday

General Electric — Shares of the industrial company surged more than 8% after GE reported a surprise adjusted profit for the third quarter and higher revenues than expected. 

Bed Bath & Beyond — Shares of the retailer sank 11% after the company announced new financial targets for the years ahead. 

Tupperware — Shares of Tupperware soared more than 38% after the maker of home storage products posted a big earnings and revenue beat. 

First Solar – Shares of the solar panel maker jumped more than 11% after the company's third quarter results handily beat analyst expectations.

Check out more companies making headlines in midday trading.  Yun Li

Markets at midday: Stocks sell off as rising coronavirus cases spark fear about economic recovery

The major averages were sharply lower on Wednesday as traders worried the increasing number of coronavirus cases could hinder the global economic recovery. The Dow slid more than 700 points, or 2.7%. The S&P 500 dropped 2.6% and the Nasdaq Composite dipped 2.8%. —Fred Imbert

Wild month for the Dow

With Wednesday's sharp losses, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down more than 4% this month. The 30-stock average's weekly losses are nearing 6% amid market worry due to the rise in Covid cases. — Maggie Fitzgerald

German DAX down 4.7% as European stocks struggle

Germany's DAX stock index has lost 4.7% on Wednesday as rising Covid cases weigh on the European markets. The decline puts the index on track for its worst single-day performance since March 16. — Jesse Pound

Property fintech CoreLogic fielding potential takeover bids above $80 a share

Multiple firms have offered potential takeover bids for property data firm CoreLogic that value the company at north of $80 a share, sources tell CNBC's David Faber. CoStar Group could be one of the potential bidders, the people said.

CoreLogic confirmed later on Wednesday that it is "engaging with third parties indicating preliminary interest based on public information in the potential acquisition of the Company at a value at or above $80 per share." The company's equity was last seen up 13.2% around $77.30 a share.— Thomas Franck

VIX now above 40

The VIX continued to ascend in morning trading, topping the 40 threshold briefly. The fear gauge reached the highest level since mid-June during Wednesday's steep sell-off. — Yun Li

Cruise lines and airlines lead losses

Shares of cruise line operators and airlines fell sharply on fears of a worsening pandemic, leading the sell-off on Wall Street Wednesday. Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line dropped 7% each, while Royal Carribean fell more than 4%. American Airlines slid over 4%, and United and Delta plunged 5% each. These stocks have all registered double-digit losses this week alone. — Yun Li

'It's very hard to buy stocks' with Covid cases rising and no stimulus, Cramer says

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Cramer: 'It's very hard to buy a lot of stocks when you see these numbers'

The lack of coronavirus stimulus is making it difficult for investors to purchase equities in response to the latest increase in U.S. infection rates, CNBC's Jim Cramer said on "Squawk Box."

"It's very hard to buy a lot of stocks when you see these numbers," he said. "And it's shame too because with stimulus, we'd be very tempted to own some of these stocks. But right now, I think everyone is just fearful."

Cramer noted that investors are watching closely the pandemic developments in Europe, particularly the potential for more strict public-health measures being put in place. He worried about the prospect of more restrictions in America in the absence of additional government aid.

"The lockdowns without the stimulus equals what we're seeing, and I think it's a shame because had there been stimulus, we would then be focusing on earnings and the earnings are actually pretty darn good," he said. - Kevin Stankiewicz

Stocks accelerate losses

Stocks accelerated losses during morning trading, with the Dow last trading 720 points lower for a loss of 2.6%. The S&P 500 was down 2.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite was the relative underperformer, shedding nearly 3%. — Pippa Stevens

VIX surges above 37, highest since early September

The Cboe Volatility Index, also known as the VIX or Wall Street's "fear gauge," popped 3.93 points to 37.28 on Wednesday, its highest level since Sept. 4. The VIX tracks the 30-day implied volatility of S&P 500 futures via options prices. The spike in volatility came as the Dow sold off for a fourth straight day. The 30-stock average dropped 600 points at its low in morning trading Wednesday. — Yun Li

Sell-off on Wall Street follows an 'outsized' decline in European equities

Wednesday's sharp declines in major U.S. equity benchmarks followed a steep sell-off in European markets, according to Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak. "Today's weakness is being led by an outsized decline in European stock markets...due to further fears about the strength of this new wave of the coronavirus...and the lockdowns that will go with it," Maley said in a note on Wednesday.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 2.8% by afternoon trading and hit its lowest point since June at one point in the session. The German DAX Performance Index dropped nearly 4%, breaking a key support level, Maley said.

The sharp losses in European stocks came as the rapid spread of the coronavirus continues across the continent. France could reportedly be heading for a national lockdown in a bid to contain the outbreak.— Yun Li

Here are Wednesday’s biggest analyst calls of the day: Best Buy, Lululemon, Harley-Davidson & more

  • Jefferies initiated Burlington as buy.
  • Piper Sandler named Best Buy a favorite idea.
  • Barclays upgraded Advanced Micro Devices to overweight from equal weight.
  • JPMorgan upgraded Sherwin-Williams to overweight from neutral.
  • Morgan Stanley downgraded Harley-Davidson to equal weight from overweight.
  • Deutsche Bank upgraded Lululemon to buy from hold.

Pro subscribers can read more here. - Michael Bloom

Stocks drop, Dow down 550 points

Stocks dropped at the open on Wednesday as a surge in Covid-19 cases continues to hammer sentiment. The Dow dropped 550 points, for a loss of 2%. The S&P 500 declined 1.84%, while the Nasdaq Composite traded 1.64% lower. — Pippa Stevens

Stock futures accelerate losses

U.S. stock futures continued to move lower ahead of the opening bell. Futures contracts tied to the Dow last traded 622 points lower, indicating a more than 600-point drop when regular trading begins. S&P 500 futures slid 2%, while Nasdaq 100 futures were down 1.6%. — Pippa Stevens

Treasury yields lower as Covid fears grip global risk markets

Investors are moving into Treasurys as stocks sell off on worries about the pandemic and U.S. election uncertainty.

The 10-year yield, recently as high as 0.87%, has slid back to 0.75%.

BMO's Ian Lyngen said the 10-year yield is now in the process of redefining the bottom of a new trading range. He points to the 50-day moving average at 0.71%, which has been a recent inflection point. Beyond that is the intraday low from Oct. 15 at 0.689%.

The 10-year yield broke above 0.80% earlier this month, for the first time since June. Strategists expect the yield could easily slide back into the 0.60% area or lower if the election outcome is uncertain.

-- Patti Domm

Tech CEOs to testify on social media liability statute

The CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter are set to testify in front of the Senate Commerce Committee and are expected to warn against repealing Section 230, a statute that protects the social networks from liability for their users' posts.

In prepared remarks, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said if the statute is removed, smaller firms would not be able to compete with the larger and more established companies. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said platforms could face liability issues for even basic content moderation without Section 230. Meanwhile, Alphabet's Sundar Pichai said Section 230 has been "foundational to U.S. leadership in the tech sector." —Michelle Gao, Fred Imbert

Boeing posts better-than-expected results, but announces more job cuts

Boeing reported a third-quarter loss of $1.39 per share, versus $2.52 a share expected by Refinitive's consensus estimates. Its revenue also came in slightly better than expected. However, the company said it would cut thousands of additional jobs through the end of next year as it prepares for weaker aircraft demand for years to come because of the coronavirus pandemic. Shares of Boeing rose slightly in premarket trading on Wednesday. — Yun Li, Leslie Josephs

First Solar jumps after blowout quarter

Shares of First Solar jumped more than 12% during premarket trading on Wednesday after the company easily topped Street estimates during the third quarter.

The solar panel manufacturer earned $1.45 per share on $928 million in revenue. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected the company to earn 63 cents per share on $676.5 million in revenue. In the same quarter a year ago, the company earned 29 cents per share, on $546.8 million in revenue.

The company also reinstated its full-year guidance, which it withdrew in May amid the pandemic. — Pippa Stevens

Microsoft sinks 2% on weak revenue guidance

Microsoft beat on the top and bottom lines of its quarterly results on Tuesday; however, the technology giant's grim outlook is weighing on the stock in premarket trading on Wednesday. Microsoft earned $1.82 per share on revenue of $37.15 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.54 per share on revenue of $35.72 billion.

The stock is stinking 2% in premarket trading after the company reported quarterly revenue guidance that fell short of analysts' expectations. Microsoft expects $39.5 billion to $40.4 billion in fiscal second-quarter revenue, Amy Hood, the company's chief financial officer, told analysts on a conference call. The middle of that range, at $39.95 billion, implies 8% annualized growth, and it's below the Refinitiv consensus estimate of $40.43 billion. — Maggie Fitzgerald

GE posts surprise adjusted profit

Shares of GE climbed 4.7% in premarket trading after the company beat Wall Street expectations on the top and bottom lines for the third quarter. The company reported adjusted earnings per share of 6 cents and $19.42 billion in revenue. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected a loss of 4 cents per share and $18.73 billion in revenue. — Jesse Pound

Stock futures drop

U.S. stock futures were sharply lower on Wednesday morning as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the U.S. and abroad.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 486 points, indicating a more than 400-point drop at the opening bell. S&P 500 futures declined 1.4%, while Nasdaq 100 futures slid 1.15%.

The move lower continues stocks' recent weakness. The Dow is coming off its third straight negative session, while the S&P has posted back-to-back losses. The Nasdaq Composite, however, rose on Tuesday amid strength in Big Tech.

Investors are also looking ahead to Tuesday's election, and what a potentially contested outcome could mean for the market. — Pippa Stevens