Stocks - Wall Street Trading Halted at Open as Rout Deepens; S&P -7%
Trading in U.S. stock markets was halted within minutes of opening on Monday, as major indices broke through the level that triggered the New York Stock Exchange’s ‘circuit-breakers’ amid a fresh wave of panic-selling.
The latest wave of selling put the market on course for its worst one-day drop since 2009. It came in response to a disorderly rout in the oil market as Saudi Arabia launched an all-out price war to reclaim market share from Russia and U.S. shale producers.
The kingdom signaled it would sharply raise output in a market that is already badly oversupplied due to a virus-induced collapse in demand. The International Energy Agency warned earlier on Monday that global oil demand would fall for the first time in a decade this year, having earlier forecast demand growth of some 1.2 million barrels a day.
The resulting 30% drop in U.S. crude prices triggered wholesale selling of oil and gas names, with oilfield service providers Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) among the worst hit. Highly-leveraged shale producers such as Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) and Whiting Petroleum (NYSE:WLL) also plunged.
Elsewhere, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell sharply after Chinese data showed its iPhones sales fell 60% on the year in China in February. The number fleshed out Apple’s sales warning last month, when it declined to offer a new forecast after saying it would miss its original target.
Also weighing on the index was DJ heavyweight Boeing (NYSE:BA), which fell after The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. regulators are set to delay the return to service of the 737 MAX even further, due to problems with its electrical wiring.