The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading when automatic breakers where triggered for the second time in a week after a quick slide after Wall Streets opening Thursday.
The Dow Jones dropped 1700 points despite an address last night by President Donald Trump from the Oval Office failed to settle nervous investors amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump announced he would be severely restricting travel from Europe to the United States – a move strongly condemned by European officials.
In the clearest sign that investors continued to be dismayed by the response from the Trump administration, all three indexes – The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq plunged over 7% – with the Dow now officially entering a bear market after it past a 20% decline from its peak amidst widespread pessimism and negative investor sentiment.
President Trump says: “After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans to keep new cases from entering our shores. We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday (March 13) at midnight.’
The European Union lashed out at Trump’s decision expressing its firm disapproval.
EU Commission Spokesperson Eric Mamer says: “The coronavirus is a global crisis not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action. The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation. The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”
In addition to the travel restrictions, Trump proposed a series of economic relief efforts including a request for Congress to approve $50 billion for low-interest loans to small businesses and a temporary tax cut.
“I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. This action will provide more than two hundred billion dollars of additional liquidity to the economy. Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. Hopefully they will consider this very strongly.”
With thousands of more cases of coronavirus expected in the country, the NBA suspended all games until further notice, California and Washington State are restricting gatherings of 250 people or more, New Rochelle in New York State established the first containment zone due to an outbreak cluster, school districts have closed, churches have shut their doors as people are encouraged to impose social distancing.
Governor of Washington State Jay Inslee says: “I am ordering pursuant to my emergency powers, that certain events in King, Snohomish and Pierce County with more than 250 people are prohibited by order of the governor. These events that are prohibited are gatherings for social, recreational, spiritual and other matters, including but not limited to community, civic, public leisure, faith-based or sporting events. Parades, concerts, festivals, conventions, fundraisers and similar activities of that dimension are prohibited as we go forward.”
There is a sense of heightened awareness and vigilance in the United States – public transport usually swarming with people during rush-hour traffic is much quieter as companies encourage staff to work from home. The United Nations is seeking to reduce staff numbers at its Headquarters and has cancelled all public tours until further notice. Over 1200 people in the country have tested positive in 42 states including Washington D.C., with 37 deaths confirmed to date.