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US Stocks Plummet in Early Trading

Stock trader Gregory Rowe works at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, March 18, 2020.

U.S. stocks plunged in early trading Wednesday amid investor uncertainty over the government's response to the coronavirus, setting the stage for what may be another highly volatile day of trading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were more than 5 percent lower shortly after the markets opened while the Nasdaq Composite Index was down more than 4 percent.

The U.S. and other countries are unveiling economic stimulus packages to ease investor concern and to help prevent a global recession that some economists are predicting.

The U.S. announced a plan Tuesday to provide cash payments to citizens to help them grapple with financial damage inflicted by the coronavirus.

Oil prices plummeted to their lowest level in more than 17 years. U.S. crude futures fell nearly 9 percent, their lowest level since 2002.

The widely watched 10-year Treasury yield climbed more than 1 percent Wednesday after trading around 0.77 percent on Tuesday prior to the disclosure of the U.S. stimulus plan. Yields on bonds in other major economies also rose sharply, as investors turned to short-term government debt and cash.