Wall St. clobbered on oil plunge, virus crisis

Panic selling gripped global markets on Monday and did not let go.

Investors rushed for the exits as oil prices crashed and traders bet on the growing chance the coronavirus outbreak causes a global recession.

The plunge on Wall Street was so severe so-called circuit breaker forced a temporary halt in stock market trading. That's the first mandated 15-minute pause in market-wide trading since 1997.

When the dust settled: The Dow cratered 2,013 points; it's biggest point loss on record. The S&P 500 tumbled 225 points for a near 8 percent drop. The Nasdaq plunged 624 points.

The market had its worst day since the financial crisis and as a whole is down almost 19 percent from the February record high to close at a 9-month low…. Nearing a bear market - that's when stocks drop more than 20 percent.

Susan Schmidt, head of U.S. equities at Aviva Investors, says the price action suggests investors are bracing for a recession.


"Perhaps this is the rollover that people have been expecting. I think that people have been concerned for so long, looking over their shoulder waiting to see has the next recession started, have we finally petered out that there is a knee-jerk reaction in today's response and what you're seeing in the market. People are anxiously anticipating that next event that will cause the recession and could this be it."

The unrelenting sell-off came on the back of a decision by Saudi Arabia to flood the oil market after OPEC failed to reach an agreement with Russia to cut global production in face of softer demand.

A 25-percent nosedive in oil prices Monday was the biggest one-day plummet since the 1991 Gulf War.

All of the S&P 500's top losers were energy stocks: Apace down 54 percent. Marathon down 47 percent. Halliburton down almost 40 percent.

Cruise operators were the second worst sector. The State Department in a tweet warned Americans to stay away from cruise travel. Shares of Norwegian Cruise Lines fell 27 percent, Royal Caribbean fell 26 percent. Carnival was down 20 percent.

Not even the Federal Reserve was able to console worried investors. The Fed announced it was increasing funding available for short-term loans to financial institutions. But traders are betting there is more to come, pricing in a full one percent rate cut when the Fed meets next week.

That drove more money to safe-havens like the bond market. The yield on the 10-year note touched a new record low below 0.4 percent.

And the funk on Wall Street didn't let up after reports the White House economic team will meet Monday night to discuss ways to cushion the economy.

Earlier in the day in a tweet, President Trump blamed Monday's market plunge on the fight between Russia and Saudi Arabia, along with "fake news."