Donald Trump has spent his Monday attacking former President Barack Obama and the “fake news” media for its coverage of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, claiming the stock market’s morning plunge was the result of negative news coverage.
After spending a weekend golfing with Washington Nationals players, the president lambasted Barack Obama’s administration and compared the coronavirus to the common flu. US health officials began to warn that older Americans and people who are sick may be at risk of contracting the illness, as at least 30 states confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Coronavirus fears and a crash in oil prices sent a shudder through financial markets on Monday, with stocks plummeting so fast on Wall Street that they triggered the first automatic halt in trading in over two decades.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 7.8 percent, and European markets entered a bear market, registering their heaviest losses since the darkest days of the 2008 meltdown, as the damage mounted from the crisis that has closed factories, schools and stores and led to travel bans and unprecedented quarantines.
"The market has had a crisis of confidence," said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird.
The market slide came as Italy, the hardest-hit place in Europe, began enforcing a lockdown against 16 million people in the north - a quarter of the population - with masked police officers and soldiers checking travellers' documents. The turmoil is expected to push Italy into recession and weigh on the European economy.
In the US, a cruise ship with a cluster of coronavirus cases that forced it to idle off the California coast for days arrived at the port of Oakland as officials prepared to start taking passengers to military bases for quarantine or get them back to their home countries.
The Grand Princess had more than 3,500 people aboard - 21 infected with the virus.
The escalating crisis combined with an intertwined development - plummeting oil prices - to drag down the market. The price of oil sank nearly 20% after Russia refused to roll back production in response to virus-depressed demand and Saudi Arabia signalled it will ramp up its own output.
While low oil prices can translate into cheaper fuel, they wreak havoc on energy companies and countries that count on petroleum revenue, including the number one producer, the US.
Additional reporting by Associated Press. Read The Independent's live updates as they came in below:
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