U.S. stocks midday Thursday took a firm leg lower after the Washington Post reported that U.S. officials were “crafting retaliatory actions against China’ as the Trump administration criticizes the world’s second-largest economy for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.55% was down more than 400 points, or 1.7%, at 24,228, the S&P 500 index SPX, -1.40% was off 1.5% and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.89% dropped 0.9%, with all the benchmarks trading around their lowest levels of the session. The coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China in December and Trump has recently railed against what he has described as the country’s lack of transparency around the severity of the outbreak. The pandemic has infected more than 3 million people world-wide and claimed more than 230,000 lives, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
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