A Jeep Renegade 4×4 e is presented at the Geneva Motor Show March 5, 2019. Signage in the background says”‘FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles,” to which Jeep belongs.

Uli Deck | picture alliance | Getty Images

Shares of the Detroit automakers once again hit 52-week lows Thursday amid a wider market sell-off due to fears about the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

The Thursday declines are the latest in a roller-coaster week for stocks that started Monday with an oil price war and the fast-spreading COVID-19 outbreak. Both caused shares of General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler to hit 52-week lows to begin the week.

Tesla hasn’t escaped the sell-off, however it remains far from its 52-week low of $176.99 per share following an unprecedented rally to begin the year. Shares of the California-based automaker were down more than 13% to about $550 during midday trading. They recovered to about $570 per share, still roughly 10% down on the day, as of 1:30 p.m. ET.

The market bounced slightly after the Federal Reserve announced extraordinary funding actions to ease strained capital markets in the wake of the coronavirus sell-off.

Fiat Chrysler led Thursday’s drop, falling as much as 19% to $8.60 per share – the lowest price since 2016 and more than double the declines of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500. Shares of the Italian-American automaker are down about 37% in the past 12 months, including a roughly 40% fall so far in 2020. Shares remained down about 15% at $9.06 following the Federal Reserve’s announcement. 

GM shares were down about 11% to $23.18 in early afternoon trading, up from a low of $22.50 earlier in the day. Ford was trading down about 7% to $5.45, up from its new 52-week low of $5.20 per share during morning trading.

Fiat Chrysler has the largest exposure to Italy, where the government has implemented a national quarantine. The automaker said Wednesday that it would “intensify measures” against the spread of the coronavirus in Italy, including temporarily closing plants this week.

Experts have warned that the impact of the coronavirus on the auto industry is evolving from a disruption of parts issue to a potential consumer demand problem.

“Even without the added impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the global vehicle market was heading for a decline of around 2% this year with the US, China and European markets flat or slightly declining,” said David Leggett, automotive editor at data and analytics firm GlobalData. “The demand outlook has now deteriorated further.”

Research firm LMC Automotive cut its 2020 global light-duty vehicle sales forecast by 4%, or 3.7 million units, as the “rippling impact of the COVID-19 outbreak creates significant uncertainty.”

Moody’s Investor Service cut its global vehicle sales forecast earlier this month due to the coronavirus to a decline of 2.5% in 2020 instead of a 0.9% drop.

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