Wall Street is preparing for a bloodbath on Monday, after oil prices cratered by 30 percent overnight, pushing all three major averages to declines of around 5 percent and adding stress to an economy already feeling intense pressure from the coronavirus epidemic.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average looked set to open down by 1,300 points on Monday morning, with trading on the S&P 500 halted overnight after hitting critical levels that triggered a “circuit-breaker,” which prevents further losses.
Investors took shelter in safe havens, pushing gold to a seven-year high and pushing the 10-year Treasury yield to an all-time historic low of 0.3 percent by early morning.
The sell-off comes as fears mount that the viral outbreak will further disrupt supply chains, travel, and production around the world.
Conditions worsened after the world’s oil-producing countries failed to strike a deal at a meeting between cartel members in Vienna last week. The stalemate continued over the weekend, with Saudi Arabia and Russia reportedly planning to ramp up production on their own terms after the current deal expires at the end of the month.
The market mayhem means participants are now pricing in an additional rate cut from the Federal Reserve, anticipating the central bank will this month slash the current range of 1 to 1.25 percent all the way down to zero, a level not seen since the financial crisis.
The next Fed meeting is set for March 17-18, in Washington, D.C., but some market watchers say a move could come sooner. The economic fallout from the virus pushed the Fed to implement an emergency rate cut last week, the first time it has made such a decision since the Lehman Brothers bank collapsed in 2008, one of the triggers of the recession.
“The sky is falling. Wall Street’s woes have to eventually hit Main Street’s economy hard,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank.