U.S. stock trading halted as S&P tumbles
Updated 22:57, 16-Mar-2020

U.S. stock trading was halted as the S&P 500 plunged by over 9 percent on Monday morning triggering the third circuit breaker in two weeks despite the Federal Reserve slashing interest rates to zero amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Fed on Sunday made its second emergency rate cut in less than two weeks to douse the volatility, cutting the benchmark borrowing rate to a range of 0-0.25 percent, the most dramatic move since the 2008 financial crisis. 

S&P 500 companies lost more than 2 trillion U.S. dollars in value in the first few minutes of trading on Monday as investors panicked about the mounting damage from the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy.

Trading on the three main U.S. stock indexes was halted for 15 minutes at the open, the third such pause in six days, as the benchmark index plunged by 8 percent and triggered an automatic cutout.

At 10:14 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2,326.15 points, or 10.03 percent, at 20,859.47, while the S&P 500 was down 263.50 points, or 9.72 percent, at 2,447.52. The Nasdaq Composite was down 747.03 points, or 9.49 percent, at 7,127.84.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and 314 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded two new highs and 1,092 new lows.

Wall Street suffered its worst session on Thursday since 1987, plunging by 10 percent as emergency measures by central banks failed to douse mounting recession fears due to the coronavirus. 

Latin America's biggest stock market has also seen a sudden plunge. Brazilian stocks lost 12.5 percent almost soon as the market opened on Monday, triggering a halt of trading for the fifth time in a week.

Central banks across Asia and Europe also cut borrowing costs and pumped funds into the system in a bid to cushion the economic impact as the breakneck spread of the virus all but shut down more countries.

Europe introduced curbs on short-selling, while bond markets tried to juggle both the risk to vulnerable countries but also that a fiscal spending splurge might impact safe-haven debt.

Oil prices plunged more than 9 percent as the COVID-19 spread worldwide, which is cooling down the global economy and demand for crude. The two most popular grades all slid under 30 U.S. dollars line. International benchmark Brent crude was down 3.58 U.S. dollars, or 10.6 percent, to 30.27 U.S. dollars a barrel by 1231 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at 29.24  U.S. dollars, down 2.49 U.S. dollars or 7.8 percent.

(With input from Reuters)