At the end of the first quarter, the coronavirus pandemic broadened out across the globe and the country, dragging output to a near standstill.

Market participants are bracing for the first-quarter gross domestic product report to show U.S. economic activity contracted for the first time in six years, and by the most since 2009, as a reflection of the early impact of the outbreak on economic growth.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is poised to release its advanced estimate of first-quarter 2020 GDP at 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. Here are the main metrics expected from the report, compared to consensus expectations compiled by Bloomberg as of Tuesday morning:

  • 1Q GDP annualized, QoQ: -3.9% expected, +2.1% in 4Q 2019

  • 1Q Personal consumption: -3.5% expected, +1.8% in 4Q 2019

  • 1Q Core PCE QoQ: +1.7% expected, +1.3% in 4Q 2019

Estimates for the size of the first-quarter contraction spanned a wide range, as economists grappled with an unprecedented set of business operational halts and widespread stay-in-place orders across the country.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="JPMorgan Chase economists on Tuesday downgraded their forecast to a Street low of -11.2% on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, from the -9.9% drop they anticipated previously, to account for new data showing weaker net exports in March.” data-reactid=”24″>JPMorgan Chase economists on Tuesday downgraded their forecast to a Street low of -11.2% on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, from the -9.9% drop they anticipated previously, to account for new data showing weaker net exports in March.

On the higher end, Mizuho Securities expected GDP to be flat in the first quarter, and Wells Fargo Securities forecasted a drop of 1.2%.

“We expect March was the beginning of the recession in the U.S., followed by a much more severe contraction in Q2,” Sam Bullard, Wells Fargo senior economist, wrote in a note Sunday. “Severe declines in consumption and business investment should only be partially offset by gains from residential investment and government outlays. Moreover, trade and inventories should continue to be volatile.”

None of the approximately 60 economists whose estimates were compiled by Bloomberg anticipated positive GDP growth for the first quarter.

Coronavirus Outbreak Global economic Recession. Small business owner affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Freelance contractor being impact by COVID 19 with loss of money, employees and no supplies.Coronavirus Outbreak Global economic Recession. Small business owner affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Freelance contractor being impact by COVID 19 with loss of money, employees and no supplies.
Coronavirus Outbreak Global economic Recession. Small business owner affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Freelance contractor being impact by COVID 19 with loss of money, employees and no supplies.

Ahead of the report, a number of government data releases already underscored the economic damage invoked by the coronavirus pandemic and widespread business closures.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A historic 26 million individuals filed for new unemployment insurance claims over the past five weeks, with new claims appearing to have peaked in late March. Retail sales plunged by a record 8.7% in March, suggested a sharp drop-off in consumer spending as social distancing measures overtook the country and joblessness drove a drop-off in discretionary spending.” data-reactid=”40″>A historic 26 million individuals filed for new unemployment insurance claims over the past five weeks, with new claims appearing to have peaked in late March. Retail sales plunged by a record 8.7% in March, suggested a sharp drop-off in consumer spending as social distancing measures overtook the country and joblessness drove a drop-off in discretionary spending.

If Wednesday’s GDP report shows personal consumption contracted by the expected margin of 3.5%, it would be the worst drop since late 2008. Consumer spending comprises about 70% of U.S. economic activity.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The manufacturing sector has shown similar signs of distress, with output falling by the most since 1946 in March. Durable goods orders sank by the most since August 2014 as commercial aircraft orders sank, reflecting shriveled demand for air travel and, more broadly, supply chain disruptions for the manufacturing sector as a whole.” data-reactid=”42″>The manufacturing sector has shown similar signs of distress, with output falling by the most since 1946 in March. Durable goods orders sank by the most since August 2014 as commercial aircraft orders sank, reflecting shriveled demand for air travel and, more broadly, supply chain disruptions for the manufacturing sector as a whole.

Many expect the economic damage will only deepen in the second quarter, affirming that the U.S. is in the midst of a downturn. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

“Unfortunately, the early survey data for April point to even worse to come in the second quarter, with the Markit composite PMI falling to a record low of 27.4. On past form, that would be consistent with GDP falling by around 10% at an annualized pace,” Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a note Monday. “But we fear the surveys aren’t capturing the full extent of the damage, as the worst-affected firms will have simply stopped responding. We think the second-quarter decline will be closer to 40%.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.&nbsp;Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck” data-reactid=”46″>Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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