The New York Stock Exchange triggered circuit breakers Thursday that halted trading on the S&P 500 for a second time this week, following an earlier suspension for Wall Street futures, amid an ongoing rout for global stocks.
Wall Street futures hit 'limit down' levels for the second time, as well, as stocks plunged to fresh one-year lows amid accelerating coronavirus fears after President Donald Trump issued a sweeping European travel ban and the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic.
A weak start to trading, fueled by disappointment with the lack of progress from the Trump administration's pledge for "major" tax relief to support the economy, was exaggerated by Trump's decision to ban travel between the U.S. and Europe for at least 30 days, a move that sent European shares to a near four-year low and pulled U.S. futures sharply lower.
The S&P 500 was halted from trading for 15 minutes shortly after the opening bell after the broadest measure of U.S. stocks fell 7%, or 192.33 points, to 2549.05 points, triggering a 'Level 1' suspension. The Dow was halted after falling 7.2% to 21,856.91 points while the Nasdaq Composite was frozen at 7,394.66 after falling 7.01%.
When cash trading resumed at 9:50 am Eastern time, the losses extended, with the S&P 500 marked 7.8% lower at 2,526.42 and the Dow down 8.8% at 21,472.5 points.
Active trading in the main SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) - Get Report, however, continues, with the market's biggest passive investment vehicle slumping 7% to change hands at $255.27 each. The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) - Get Report, meanwhile, was last seen 7.14% lower at $219.90 each.
The first 'Level 1' circuit breakers halt trading for 15 minutes if the S&P 500 falls 7%. If markets extend the decline to 13% down on the session, a 'Level 2' breaker is triggered and trading would be suspended for another 15 minutes. A 20% decline, however, would shut down trading for the remainder of the day.
The NYSE triggered circuit breakers on Monday, as well, using the "limit down" rules during the official trading day for the first time since 2008.
The CBOE's key volatility gauge, known as the VIX, was marked 30.2% higher at 61.6, meaning options traders are pricing in a 61.6% chance that the S&P 500 will rise or fall by 61.6% over the next year.
European stocks, meanwhile, fell 10%, the most on record, after the European Central Bank made no changes to its three key interest rates Thursday, defying market projections, but pledged instead to re-open its dormant quantitative easing program to support the economy as it grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
The Stoxx 600 benchmark was seen 10.2% lower by mid-afternoon trading, taking the broadest measure of regional share prices to the lowest levels in at least five years. while Britain's FTSE 100 tumbled 9.4% to pull it back below levels last seen during the Brexit sell-off in the summer of 2016. Germany's DAX performance index fell 10.45% while France's CAC-40 plunged 10.72%.