Dow Jones Set to Record Worst Quarter in More Than 3 Decades, Continuing Coronavirus Plunge

The Dow Jones is set to record its worst quarter in more than 30 years as the U.S. economy slows down amid the coronavirus pandemic, marking a dramatic drop and stark contrast to analysts' and President Donald Trump's predictions at the start of 2020 that "the best is yet to come."

Tuesday marks the final day of the tumultuous first quarter, with the Dow tracking to record March as its worst month since the 2008 financial crisis and the index's worst quarter in 33 years—dating back to October 1987's "Black Monday" crash. Stock market analysts and the president began the quarter by touting the Dow's rise above 29,000, with the index of the country's 30-top performing companies hitting its highest-ever closing record of 29,551.42 on February 12. But just a few weeks later, COVID-19 spread across the globe from China and sparked a series of record-setting drops in March to launch a bear market.

The 2020 stock market crash started March 9, with the Dow falling a staggering 2,013.76 points to 23,851.02. But two more record-setting drops occurred that following week as coronavirus cases soared across the U.S.

Several indexes including Standard and Poor's 500 futures and are on track to see their worst opening quarters in decades. The FTSE 100 Index, a share showing 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange, is also set to suffer its worst quarter since 1987 after falling 26 percent this year over COVID-19 fears. Last week, the S&P 500, the broadest measure of all stocks, fell below 2,264 points to wipe out all gains made since January 19, 2017—the day before Trump took office.

“11,000 points gained in the Dow in the 3 years since the Election of President Trump. Today it may hit 29,000. That has NEVER happened before in that time frame. That has added 12.8 Trillion Dollars to the VALUE of American Business.” @Varneyco @FoxNews The best is yet to come!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2020

The Dow Jones started the year at a record high of 28,868.80 and went on to set another record just a week later on January 15 when it surpassed the historic 29,000 mark. Reacting on Twitter to the stock market gains on January 10, Trump congratulated himself, "11,000 points gained in the Dow in the 3 years since the Election of President Trump. Today it may hit 29,000. That has NEVER happened before in that time frame. That has added 12.8 Trillion Dollars to the VALUE of American Business."@Varneyco @FoxNews The best is yet to come!"

Trump's optimism at the beginning of 2020 was echoed by stock market analysts and politicians alike, who similarly touted the soaring Dow alongside record unemployment numbers throughout his tenure in the White House.

As of Tuesday morning, the final day of the year's first quarter, the Dow sits at 22,208, down more than 120 points on the day, but still up 20 percent from the March 23 coronavirus sell-off lows.

Critics of the president's response to the coronavirus pandemic have accused Trump of being more focused on the stock market or jobs than on the health of Americans. Trump tried to downplay the effect of the coronavirus spread from China in the days after the Dow Jones hit its February record highs.

"The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!" the president tweeted February 24.

1987 stock market crash dow
The Dow Jones is set to record its worst quarter in more than 30 years as the coronavirus pandemic slows the U.S. economy. MARIA BASTONE / AFP/Getty Images