Trading Halted on Wall Street as Markets Struggle with Coronavirus Pandemic

Andrew Cummings
March 19, 2020

The S&P 500 shed 8 percent in early trading and prompted the mechanism to again cut power to trading infrastructure.

As the price of Bitcoin trading plummeted by 50% overnight, there are opinions among investors that the cryptocurrency market needs to introduce a circuit breaker system like the stock market.


The morning after the Federal Reserve cut its interest rates to near zero at the urging of the President (a move meant to stabilize jittery markets anxious about the economic fallout from the global response to the novel coronavirus pandemic), all of the indexes posted major losses. The central bank cut rates by 1 percent to between 25 and zero percent.

At 9.45am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2,748.64 points, or 11.85 per cent, at 20,436.98, the S&P 500 was down 264.65 points, or 9.76 per cent, at 2,446.37 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 922.27 points, or 11.71 per cent, at 6,952.60. The S&P 500 was down nearly 300 points and the Nasdaq was down 800 points. We had a Level 1 circuit breaker trip on March 9 and another one on March 12 as markets recoiled from growing concerns over the global outbreak of coronavirus.


The latter two have never been used before in the US stock market. The threshold has since been lowered to 7 percent. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude tumbled more than 8 percent and the New York Mercantile Exchange lost 7 percent.

Prior to this month, the stop-gap measure was last triggered in 1997 during the Asian financial crisis that sunk the economies of countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea. The Securities and Exchange Commission agreed at the time that the threshold was too low.


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