Stock trading was halted just minutes after the opening bell rang on Thursday morning, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanked 1,600 points. Forbes reports, the plummet triggered circuit breakers put in place when the market takes a steep tumble, stopping all trading for at least 15 minutes.
The pause in trading is the second this week and comes after president Donald Trump’s Wednesday night speech announcing a ban on travel from the European Union amid concerns about the novel coronavirus. The rare White House address, which received a less-than-positive reaction, is the latest in a series of moves that have raised concerns over how the current administration is handling the outbreak. Trump has been criticized for not working closely enough with Congress to find a solutions to containing the national spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“We have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe,” Trump said, according to CNN. “The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots.”
“We made a life-saving move with early action on China,” he added. “Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health and safety of the American people. I will always put the well-being of America first.”
On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit “bear” territory for the first time in 11 years, meaning that the market has lost 20 percent of its value since the peak last month. By the time the halt was triggered, the Dow was sitting under 22,000 points. European and Asian markets also dropped into “bear market territory” this week.
The circuit breakers that paused trading this morning usually go into effect when the market loses more than 7 percent of its opening value during the day. After trading resumed, stocks continued to drop despite the safety measure, which is used to prevent the type of sell-off that could plunge the country into a recession.
Analysts suggest that part of the problem is Trump’s plan for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic remains unclear, and that it doesn’t seem that an economic stimulus package be released soon.
Fears over the rapidly spreading pandemic have not been the only concern affecting domestic stock prices: oil prices abroad have also crashed as Russia and Saudi Arabia are embroiled in a price war. Airline stocks in the U.S. were hit particularly hard.