Another day, another huge stock sell-off as fear grips markets and won't let go

North American stock markets sold off sharply again on Thursday as investors reacted to a slew of negative stories related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The TSX and Dow Jones were hit by so much selling that rules known as “circuit breakers” were automatically implemented, halting trading for 15 minutes to give the stock market a breather.

The TSX and Dow were both off more than seven per cent within moments of opening, which triggered what’s known as a level one trading halt.

When the halt was lifted 15 minutes later, the selling intensified. At its lowest point, the TSX was down as much as 11 per cent. The Dow was down by more than 2,100 points at one point, or more than nine per cent.

If a sell-off tops 13 per cent in either New York or Toronto, markets will be halted again for 15 minutes. If a plunge hits as much as 20 per cent for the day, the market will be shut down for the rest of the day.

The sell-off comes on the heels of the two stock groupings plunging officially into bear market territory on Wednesday, which is defined as a loss of more than 20 per cent since their peak. 

Anything related to airlines was especially hard hit, as tourism around the world dries up. In a Thursday evening address, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that travel between more than two-dozen European countries and the U.S. would be restricted for a month starting tomorrow.

Air Canada was down by 10 per cent, or $3, to $24.40. Shares in the airline have lost more than half of their value in barely a month. Shares in U.S. plane maker Boeing also plummeted at the open.

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