The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) attempted to rally on Tuesday following a steep sell-off on Monday. The Dow was up 3.4% at 1 p.m. EDT, although it spent some of the morning in negative territory.
Actions by the Federal Reserve may be calming investors' nerves. The Fed restarted a financial crisis-era program to support the commercial paper market. This came a few days after an emergency rate cut. Meanwhile, U.S. cities are increasingly shutting down schools and certain businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) were down as the company reportedly asked the White House for short-term financial aid. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) stock managed to rally as investors bet that the discount retailer would hold up during the crisis.
Boeing keeps tumbling
The grounding of Boeing's 737 Max following two fatal crashes put a dent in the stock, but that was nothing compared to what's happening as the novel coronavirus pandemic worsens. Shares of Boeing were down about 10% by early afternoon, even as the broader market rallied. The stock is now down nearly 70% from its 52-week high.
Bad news is piling up for the airplane manufacturer and defense company. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that an internal memo said that 11 Boeing employees had tested positive for COVID-19, and that 339 employees are under quarantine. Production at Boeing's factories could potentially be halted by public health officials.
Also on Monday, Bloomberg reported that Boeing had asked the White House and Congressional officials for short-term aid for itself, suppliers, and airlines. Boeing halted production of the 737 Max in January, which hurt some of its suppliers. A more widespread shutdown could lead to a cascade of layoffs across the industry. Last week, Bloomberg reported that Boeing was planning to fully draw down a $13.8 billion loan from a group of banks as a precaution due to market turmoil.
Boeing was already struggling before the outbreak as the 737 Max crisis severely hurt the company's results. Things could now get much worse for the industrial giant.
While Boeing stock dragged down the Dow on Tuesday, Walmart helped drive the index higher. Shares of the megaretailer were up 7.3% by early afternoon as investors flocked to stores that are unlikely to be hit as hard by the pandemic.
Walmart is the largest seller of groceries in the United States, and it's very unlikely the company's stores would be closed due to the pandemic. Nonessential retailers may shut down for a while -- department store Nordstrom announced temporary closures on Tuesday. But retailers that sell what people need even when they're hunkered down at home will likely remain open.
Walmart's investment in curbside grocery pickup could really pay off during this crisis. The company has aggressively expanded its online grocery options over the past couple of years. Grocery pickup was available at almost 3,000 stores by late 2019, and the company planned to expand grocery delivery to 1,400 locations.
Walmart may see slumping demand for some nongrocery items it sells, and store traffic will likely take a hit. But Walmart should hold up better than most retailers as this crisis plays out.