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Circuit breakers kick in on Wall Street for second time in a week

March 12, 2020, 1:43 PM UTC

For the second time in a week, Wall Street halted trading just minutes after opening for the day as the S&P 500 lost 7% of its value within six minutes of the opening bell, falling to 2,539.05.

Circuit breakers, which are triggered when the market drops that amount, kicked in at 9:36 a.m. ET. The plunge came after markets in Europe and Japan both saw heavy losses—and the European Central Bank voted to keep rates unchanged.

Should the timeout not calm down traders, a Level Two halt would go into effect with a 13% drop (taking the S&P to 2385 today). It, too, would be a 15-minute break (unless that drop occurs after 3:25 p.m. ET).

A Level Three halt will occur if stocks fall 20% in a single day. (Today, that would mean the index fell to 2,193.) If that occurs, trading will shut down for the rest of the day, regardless of when it happens.

Circuit breakers kicked in Monday amid COVID-19 coronavirus fears and news that Saudi Arabia would increase its crude output, which hit crude prices hard.

Today, markets are showing displeasure with Donald Trump’s European travel ban, announced in a speech to the nation Wednesday night.

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