Domestic stock markets started Thursday’s session sharply lower amid a selloff in global markets after US President Donald Trump announced a temporary travel ban from Europe in order to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P BSE Sensex plunged as much as 1,821.27 points to hit 33,876.13 in the first few minutes of trade, and the broader NSE Nifty benchmark slid to 9,916.55, down 541.85 points from the previous close. Equities around the globe plunged after the US President’s announcement – suspending all travel from Europe except the UK for 30 days starting Friday – stunned investors, threatening more disruptions to businesses and the world economy.
Mr Trump, however, said trade will not be affected by the restrictions.
Analysts had already been gauging the chances of major economies entering recession in the past few weeks due to the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Equities in Asian markets slumped, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan losing 4.1 per cent to its lowest level since early 2019, and Japan’s Nikkei dropping 5.3 per cent. Australia’s benchmark dived 7.4 per cent while South Korea’s KOSPI fell 4.6 per cent to a four-and-a-half-year low.
Wall Street futures also took a hit, with the S&P 500 futures diving 4.7 per cent, a day after the S&P 500 benchmark index lost 4.89 per cent, putting the index firmly in a bear market territory, defined as a 20 per cent fall from a recent top.
European futures also fell, with Euro Stoxx 50 futures sinking 5.8 per cent to their lowest levels since mid-2016.
Crude oil prices plunged nearly 4 per cent having switched in and out of positive territory before the US announcement. On Monday, the biggest single-day fall in crude oil prices since the Gulf War had hurt investor confidence around the globe, leading to the steepest drop in Reliance Industries shares in at least 10 years.
Analysts said the United States’ travel ban from Europe refuelled concerns about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on world business.
Investors worry whether the stimulus steps can quickly turn around the global economy as concerns grew that the number of infections could quickly snowball in many countries.
Back home, the Sensex had risen 62.45 points – or 0.18 per cent – to end a volatile session at 35,697.40, and the Nifty edged higher to 10,458.40, up 6.95 points (0.07 per cent) from the previous close.