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Stocks and Sentiment Plummet Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Last week (2/24 – 2/28) saw one of the largest stock market point drops in history as over $6 trillion in investments were wiped out amid fears of the Coronavirus. This drop has put the US market into correction territory as stocks are down over 10% from their all-time high. Time will tell if this correction will continue, though today (3/2) the market has soared amid rumors of a stimulus package, there is a lot of data to gather related to how social media reacted to the drop.

Using social studio, I ran an analysis of Tweets that contained the keywords for the 3 bellwether index funds in America, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (keywords: Dow and Dow Jones), the S&P 500 (Keyword: S&P 500), and the Nasdaq Composite (Keyword: Nasdaq), I also looked at any mentions of the stock market in general (Keyword: Stock Market).

During the workweek, there were over 1.1 million Tweets in this topic profile, an astounding 729% growth from the week before. Discussion skyrocketed on Thursday and Friday as the stock market slipped into correction territory and had some of the largest single-day losses in history.

Negative Sentiment also skyrocketed on those days, far outpacing positive and neutral sentiment, as should be expected. When examining the positive sentiment posts, many were sarcastic: “Make August Great Again [crying-laugh emoji]” in response to a post about how the S&P 500 index is down to August levels. In fact, many positive Tweets include that emoji as a response from Bear Market profiteers seeing gains amid the drops as they placed puts on $SPY and saw major gains from that. There were some people defending the drop though, but they were far outpaced by those afraid of the ongoing correction.

The most common words look like something out of a post-apocalyptic film: coronavirus, fear, pandemic, and crisis were some of the most used words not in the keyword profile. Most of the Tweets referenced President Trump specifically as many people pointed out his market gains were lower than President Obama’s ad that the largest drops in history were under his presidency. Obama was also mentioned a lot, mostly in comparison to Trump. Vice President Pence was mentioned often, as should be expected of the official in charge of the United States’ Coronavirus response, however, Senator and Democratic Presidential Primary Candidate Bernie Sanders was mentioned more often as many defenders of President Trump used him as a foil to Trump saying the economy would perform worse with him as President.

No matter how you look at it, the last week of February 2020 will be one that will be studied in the coming months and years. Fears of a rapidly spreading virus, uncertainty in the markets, and one of the first crises facing the Trump administration propelled the news and social media during this week. Time will tell if this was a bump in the road, or if the strong negative sentiment will be part of an ongoing trend.