Wall Street stops trade for 15 minutes after coronavirus and oil shocks hammer markets

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 5, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. Picture: Johannes EISELE / AFP

Trading on Wall Street was temporarily halted early on Monday US time as US stocks joined a global rout on crashing oil prices and mounting worries over the coronavirus.

The suspension was triggered after the S&P 500’s losses hit seven percent, with trading resuming after 15 minutes.

Near 1400 GMT, the broad-based S&P 500 was down 6.6 percent at 2,776.47.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 6.9 percent to 24,087.20, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 6.2 percent to 8,042.17.

After two difficult weeks amid rising worries over the virus, markets appeared to enter a new phase of worry early Monday after oil producers failed to reach an agreement on a pact to limit output, sending oil futures crashing.

The virus itself continued to prompt major economic dislocations, as Italy imposed a month-long lockdown on the country’s northern region and additional major sporting events were canceled, along with concerts and industry conferences.

The International Monetary Fund called for “substantial” stimulus and international coordination to counteract the economic impact of the spreading coronavirus epidemic, while the New York Federal Reserve Bank announced it will increase its daily injections of cash into financial markets by $50 billion to $150 billion to boost market liquidity.

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