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Wall Street, Dow tumbles amid COVID, NYSE to move to electronic trading

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Wall Street, Dow tumbles amid COVID, NYSE to move to electronic trading New York, March 19 (IANS) US equities ended volatile session sharply lower as panic selling continued on Wall Street amid COVID-19 fears.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday decreased 1,338.46 points, or 6.30 per cent, to 19,898.92, marking its first close below 20,000 since February 2017. The 30-stock index cratered more than 2,300 points at session lows, Xinhua reported.

The S&P 500 was down 131.09 points, or 5.18 per cent, to end at 2,398.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 344.94 points, or 4.70 per cent, to 6,989.84.

Shares of US energy giant Chevron slumped about 22 per cent, leading the laggards in the Dow. Boeing declined 17.9 per cent, dragging the market lower.

All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended lower, with energy down 14.28 per cent, representing the worst-performing group.

The S&P 500 tumbled 7 per cent in the early afternoon, triggering a key circuit breaker that halted trading for 15 minutes. It was the second time this week that the circuit breaker has been tipped and the fourth time since last week.

Wednesday”s slide came despite Washington”s massive stimulus plan to counter the virus impact.

The White House is seeking a stimulus package worth as much as $1.2 trillion in spending, including direct payments to Americans, to cushion the US economy from coronavirus fallout, local media reported Tuesday.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pitched $250 billion in checks to be sent at the end of April with a second set of checks totaling $500 billion four weeks later if there is still a national emergency, Bloomberg quoted people familiar with the matter as saying.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday the US economy “may be” heading toward a recession and that the COVID-19 outbreak could last for months.

NYSE to move to electronic trading

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has said it will temporarily close its trading floors and move to fully electronic trading due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All-electronic trading will begin on March 23 at the open, the exchange said in a statement on Wednesday, adding the decision to temporarily close the trading floors represents a precautionary step to protect the health and well-being of employees and the floor community in response to COVID-19, Xinhua reported.

“While we are taking the precautionary step of closing the trading floors, we continue to firmly believe the markets should remain open and accessible to investors. All NYSE markets will continue to operate under normal trading hours despite the closure of the trading floors,” Stacey Cunningham, president of the NYSE, said in the statement.

The closure was in part as a result of positive coronavirus tests of two people, CNBC reported Wednesday, citing Cunningham.

The facilities to be closed comprise the NYSE equities trading floor in New York, NYSE American Options trading floor in New York, and NYSE Arca Options trading floor in San Francisco.

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