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Traders listen at the New York Stock Exchange to President Donald Trump's televised remarks from the White House, March 13, 2020, in New York. (AP ) Traders listen at the New York Stock Exchange to President Donald Trump's televised remarks from the White House, March 13, 2020, in New York. (AP )

Traders listen at the New York Stock Exchange to President Donald Trump's televised remarks from the White House, March 13, 2020, in New York. (AP )

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher March 19, 2020

Stock market record point rise followed record point drop

If Your Time is short


  • The Dow had a record-high point increase on the day Trump declared a national emergency in response to coronavirus, with the surge accelerating during his late-afternoon news conference.

  • But that followed a record point decrease the previous day. And it was followed by a sharp drop by the opening of the next trading day, which saw continued declines before closing.

President Donald Trump bragged that his March 13, 2020, statements about coronavirus had record-breaking influence on the stock market.

Wearing a baseball hat with "USA" emblazoned on the front, Trump told reporters gathered at the White House a day later on March 14, 2020:

"I was honored to see that the stock market — you were mostly there with us — set a record in a short period of time, over a 45-minute period that we had the press conference yesterday in the Rose Garden. That was a record; all-time record. I think we should do one of them every day, perhaps. How about five times a day? We’ll do one five times a day. But that was something to watch and — I had no idea. We walked back, I said, ‘So, how did that work out?’ They said, ‘Sir, you just set a new record in the history of the stock market.’ So, that was pretty good."

The market did make a record surge on March 13, 2020, and the surge accelerated during Trump’s news conference that afternoon. 

But that record came a day after the steepest decline ever.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the most popular measure of the stock market, gained 1,985 points on Friday, March 13. That was its biggest point gain ever, with the "late-day surge" coming "while Trump was speaking," the Associated Press reported. The business and financial news network CNBC and other news organizations reported the same.

In his remarks, Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, announced greater availability of testing in the coming days and announced the purchase of oil for the strategic petroleum reserve — steps that may have helped lift the Dow.

His Rose Garden news conference started at 3:30 p.m. EDT and lasted an hour and 11 minutes, including remarks given by members of Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force. At the start of the speech, the Dow was at 21,747.52. By the market’s close at 4 p.m., while Trump’s news conference was continuing, it was at 23,175.92, for a gain of 1,428 points over the course of the speech.

That gain itself was larger than the previous record for the largest point gain in a day — 1,293.96 points on March 2, 2020.

"Stocks rallied, shooting sharply upward in the last half-hour of trading as investors appeared to gain confidence that the Trump administration has a plan to combat the outbreak from both a health care and economic perspective," AP reported.

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But that upward acceleration followed a record decline, as news organizations also reported.

As Barron’s put it: "The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 10% on Thursday, marking its biggest one-day percentage (and point) drop since the Black Monday stock market crash in 1987."

The rally "only recovered most of the losses suffered a day earlier," MarketWatch reported, adding that the Dow is "in a bear market."

It’s also worth noting that those gains were fleeting. The increases of March 13 were wiped out by the next trading day, Monday, March 16, when the Dow dropped like a rock and opened 2,240 points down at 20,935.70 and then fell another 248 points by the market’s close. Such sharp rises and declines are common during times of stress in the economy.

"One good day was really more of a dead-cat bounce, as the market fell still further after that," Tulane University business professor Peter Ricchiuti told PolitiFact. "Also, the stock market is not the economy. It’s a measure of projected corporate profits. Very different things."

Kathleen Day, lecturer at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and author of a book on financial crises, said in an interview: "The big picture here is the stock market is gyrating. It’s unstable because of the virus itself and because of the lack of leadership (from Trump). The market wouldn’t have gone up so much if it hadn’t gone down so much."

The White House didn’t respond to our requests for information.

Trump didn’t specify what type of record was set, but a point gain is one  legitimate measure. At the same time, large point gains and declines are natural when the Dow is at a high number. The index was marching toward 30,000 just a few weeks earlier. Stock watchers pay more attention to percentage changes on a given day or over time as a sign of the market’s strength. On that score, the gain for the day of Trump’s news conference was the largest percentage increase since October 2008.

Our ruling

Trump said that "over a 45-minute period that we had the press conference" on the coronavirus on March 13, 2020, the stock market set "an all-time record."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average registered its largest-ever point gain on March 13, with gains accelerating during Trump’s news conference. But that occurred one day after the Dow’s biggest point decline ever, and the gains were wiped out the next trading day. 

Trump’s statement is partially accurate, but leaves out important details. We rate this Half True.

Our Sources

YouTube, Fox News video of Donald Trump news conference (2:55), March 14, 2020 

Associated Press, "Declaration by Trump spurs record gain by Dow," March 14, 2020

The Hill, "Trump signs chart showing stock market rally after he declared national emergency over coronavirus," March 14, 2020

MarketWatch, "Trump touts 'biggest stock market rise in history yesterday,' but many investors believe worst isn't over amid coronavirus panic," March 15, 2020

CNBC, "Trump cheers Friday’s stock bounce, which came after the worst drop in three decades," March 14, 2020

Reuters, "After Trump boasts about rally, Wall Street tanks again," March 16, 2020

Email, Tulane University business school senior professor of practice Peter Ricchiuti, March 17, 2020

Barron’s, "The Dow Fell 10% Today for Its Worst Drop Since 1987," March 12, 2020

Interview, Kathleen Day, lecturer at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and author of a book on financial crises, March 17, 2020

Fox Business, "The Dow's biggest single-day gains and losses in history," March 17, 2020

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Stock market record point rise followed record point drop

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