US stocks continued to plunge Monday after a brief trading halt, with the Dow off more than 2,000 points as an oil-price war roiled global markets already panicked by the coronavirus epidemic.
The S&P 500 index sank 7 percent after the opening bell, triggering the first of three New York Stock Exchange “circuit breakers” that halted trading for 15 minutes at 9:35 a.m. The index pared the losses after trading reopened to 5.9 percent as of 9:58 a.m., but was on track for its worst single-day drop since the financial crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average sank as much as 2,046.10 points to 23,818.68 after trading resumed, marking its worst-ever intraday decline. The blue-chip index tanked 1,884.88 points, or 7.3 percent, before the trading halt took effect and was recently down 5.6 percent, or 1,444.64, at 24,420.14.
The Nasdaq composite plunged 6.8 percent before trading stopped and was recently off 5.6 percent at 8,092.77.
The sharp drops came after Saudi Arabia said it would increase oil production and slash offering prices, a move that led crude oil futures to plunge. The benchmark Brent crude futures were recently down 21.1 percent at $35.72 a barrel.
The potential for lower gas prices to help consumer spending isn’t encouraging stock investors as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, according to Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank.
“The sky is falling. Get out, get out while you can,” Rupkey wrote in a Sunday note. “Wall Street’s woes have to eventually hit Main Street’s economy hard. Bet on it.”