Wall Street futures trading was temporarily halted early Thursday morning ahead of the opening bell, after all three major averages sank below their thresholds.
The 5 percent “limit down” marker was breached after an address from President Donald Trump on Wednesday night tipped already-queasy traders into sell-off mode.
In his address from the Oval Office, Trump announced he would be halting all inbound flights from Europe in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. That created immediate panic as Americans abroad rushed to buy last-minute tickets home, and also fueled trader concern that suspended travel and trade between the U.S. and the European Union would come at a steep economic cost.
Travel stocks continued their double digit plunge, with airlines and hotels hardest hit.
Markets were also underwhelmed by Trump’s economic stimulus package, which offers emergency loans to small businesses, deferred tax payments for some people, but made no mention of paid sick leave or free testing for the coronavirus, which continues its spread across the U.S.
It’s the second time this week that markets have suspended futures trading: The S&P 500 hit the threshold on Monday morning after an oil production spat between Russia and Saudi Arabia pushed the price of oil down by 30 percent overnight, the biggest drop since the Gulf War, in 1991.
Trading was also halted later that day, when the S&P fell by more than 7 percent just minutes after the opening bell on Monday, triggering a circuit breaker.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to open with a decline of more than 1,100 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are currently down by just under 5 percent.