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TSX, Wall Street keep dropping after triggering 2nd trading halt in a week

Coronavirus outbreak: Stocks plunge as Trump’s travel ban stuns Wall Street
WATCH: Stocks plunge as Trump’s travel ban stuns Wall Street

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.

Coronavirus outbreak: Stocks plunge as Trump’s travel ban stuns Wall Street
Coronavirus outbreak: Stocks plunge as Trump’s travel ban stuns Wall Street

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.

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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.

READ MORE: Trump’s European travel ban leaves impact on Canada-U.S. border unclear

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Press