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The Coronavirus Crisis

Dow Dives 9.5%; Stock Trading Halted For 4th Time In 2 Weeks

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A trader reacts after automatic circuit breakers kicked in and trading was halted temporarily Wednesday at the New York Stock Exchange.
Mark Lennihan, AP

A trader reacts after automatic circuit breakers kicked in and trading was halted temporarily Wednesday at the New York Stock Exchange.

Updated at 2:53 p.m. ET

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more than 2,000 points, or 9.5%, Wednesday after President Trump announced new emergency steps to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, including suspending foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.

Trading on the New York Stock Exchange was temporarily halted for the fourth time in two weeks after the S&P 500 index plunged 7%. Major indexes continued to fall after the 15-minute pause in trading, with the S&P 500 down 8.5%.

At 19,175, the Dow hasn't been this low since late 2016, meaning the blue chip index has lost three years of gains.

Total confirmed infections from the virus topped 200,000 worldwide, and more than 8,000 people have died, as of midday Wednesday.

The virus continues to hammer large sectors of the economy, from small businesses to airlines. On Wednesday, Ford and General Motors suspended production at their U.S. facilities to help slow the spread of the virus. The shutdown is scheduled to continue at least through the end of March.

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Vice President Pence told NPR that disruptions from the outbreak could continue until midsummer. Trump said Wednesday on Twitter that the U.S. border with Canada will be closed temporarily "by mutual consent" but that "trade will not be affected." It's the latest in a series of border shutdowns around the world in response to the pandemic.

The stock market has been in a jarring up-and-down pattern for weeks. Just on Tuesday, the Dow soared 1,049 points, or 5.2%, after the Trump administration unveiled plans for a $1 trillion stimulus package and the Federal Reserve unveiled a special loan program to help offset the economic damage.

The Dow has fallen by one-third from its record high set on Feb. 12. European markets were also down sharply.

Oil prices tumbled 22%, to about $21 per barrel. The price of oil has dropped more than 60% so far this year as the world economy has virtually ground to a halt in response to the coronavirus and as major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia have entered a price war.

The pandemic is hitting American pocketbooks, with nearly 1 in 5 households experiencing a layoff or a cut in work hours, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Restaurants, bars, hotels and airlines have been hit hard, but the ripple effects are spreading across the economy and thousands of people are suddenly out of work.

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