North American markets plunged in late morning trading on Thursday after triggering the second temporary halt in a week following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of a 30-day ban for travel between the U.S. and Europe to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
The S&P/TSX composite index was down 1,358.67 points or nearly 10 per cent at 12,911.42.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 2,028.87 points at 21,524.35. The S&P 500 index was down 210.19 points at 2,531.19, while the Nasdaq composite was down 564.57 points at 7,387.48.
Just minutes after markets opened, both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange implemented a Level 1 market-wide circuit breaker that put equity trading on pause for 15 minutes.
In Toronto, Canada’s benchmark S&P/TSX composite index was down more than 1,000 points at the start of trading after officially wading into a bear market territory on Wednesday, down just over 20 per cent from its peak in February.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the technology-heavy Nasdaq indexes also tumbled more than 6.5 per cent at market open as airline and other travel-related stocks cratered.
Trading halts are meant to help soften market crashes but interrupting steep stock sell-offs and giving investors a better chance to assess the situation. In both the U.S. and Canada, a Level 1 trading halt shuts down trading for 15 minutes after a drop of seven per cent; Level 2 pauses trading for 15 minutes after a 13-per cent plunge; and Level 3 shuts down the entire trading day if the index falls by 20 per cent.
The Canadian dollar traded for 72.34 cents US compared with an average of 72.75 cents US on Wednesday.
The April crude contract was down US$1.64 at US$31.34 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was down 3.5 cents at US$1.843 per mmBTU.
The April gold contract was down US$60.10 at US$1,582.20 an ounce and the May copper contract was down 5.15 cents at US$2.4505 a pound.
— With files from the Canadian PressView link »