By Medha Singh
(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq cratered into a bear market on Thursday as a shock move by President Donald Trump to suspend travel from Europe rattled investors already shaken by fears of a global recession on the back of a coronavirus pandemic.
Trading on Wall Street was halted minutes after the opening bell as the S&P 500 slid 7% and triggered a 15-minute cutout. The indexes are now more than 24% below their intraday record highs hit in February.
The announcement knocked the S&P 1500 airlines index <.SPCOMAIR> down 10.1% with cruise liners Carnival Corp
“It’s not just the fear of the economy going weak, but basically being on the brink of shutting down,” said Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas.
“It’s mass selling across the board (and) we are pricing in a potential to go into another financial crisis.”
Investors were also unnerved by the absence of targeted stimulus measures and the lack of details on a public health response after Trump made no mention of widely expected payroll tax cuts.
Online travel agents Expedia Group Inc
Wall Street’s fear gauge <.VIX> jumped about 15 points to its highest since November 2008 at 68.76, as the death toll from the virus rose to over 4,600 worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.
At 10:02 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was down 1,867.08 points, or 7.93%, at 21,686.14, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> was down 188.00 points, or 6.86%, at 2,553.38. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was down 515.77 points, or 6.49%, at 7,436.28.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 29.70-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 24.79-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and 301 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded one new high and 1,264 new lows.
(Reporting by Medha Singh and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta)