Wall Street pounded by oil crash, virus fears
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main stock indexes plummeted about 5% on Monday, as a slump in oil prices and the rapid spread of the coronavirus amplified fears of a global recession on the anniversary of the U.S. stock market’s longest bull run.
The S&P 500 .SPX was set for its biggest one-day percentage fall since Aug. 8, 2011, when ratings agency S&P downgraded U.S. sovereign debt. The Dow Jones Industrials .DJI briefly lost more than 2,000 points as investors fled to safe-haven assets like bonds and the Japanese yen.
The energy .SPNY index plunged 18.2% to its lowest level since August 2004 and crude prices were on track for their worst day in three decades as Saudi Arabia and Russia moved to significantly ramp up production after the collapse of a supply cut agreement. [O/R]
Companies listed on the S&P 500 have now lost more than $5 trillion in value in a sell-off sparked by fears that the coronavirus epidemic could tip the global economy into recession.
“There is potential that we could be at the start of a financial crisis part two,” said Dennis Dick, head of markets structure, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas.
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“It’s a possibility right now that wasn’t on the table until we had this oil plunge over the weekend.”
Trading was halted immediately after the opening as the S&P 500 .SPX tumbled 7%, triggering an automatic 15-minute cutout originally put in place to avoid a repeat of the “Black Monday” crash in 1987, when the Dow slumped nearly 23%.
The circuit breakers were adjusted in 2012 – the thresholds needed to trigger a trading pause were lowered and the S&P 500 replaced the Dow as the benchmark index.
The S&P 500 has fallen 18% from its record high hit as recently as three weeks ago, and stands only about 3% away from moving into bear market territory, in one of the most dramatic swings ever.
Wall Street’s fear gauge , halted for the first half hour after opening, jumped to its highest level since the 2008 crisis.
Oil majors Chevron Corp (CVX.N) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), fell more than 7%, each to hit multi-year lows.
At 1:12 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 1,628.16 points, or 6.29%, at 24,236.62 and the S&P 500 .SPX was down 175.94 points, or 5.92%, at 2,796.43. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 443.18 points, or 5.17%, at 8,132.44.
Underlining the broad-based tumble, declining issues outnumbered advancers for an 18-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 17-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury US10YT=RR hit a record low again, sending the rate-sensitive financials index .SPSY down 9.8%.
Traders now expect U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers to cut interest rates for the second time this month when they meet next week.
The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and 215 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded nine new highs and 924 new lows.
(Graphic – S&P energy relative to S&P 500 vs crude, here)
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