AP NEWS

Sao Paulo stock exchange halts trading amid big losses

March 11, 2020 GMT
A broker works at a brokerage firm in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, March 9, 2020. As fear grips global financial markets, sending stocks, bond yields and oil prices diving, Latin America is bracing for an economic fallout that could test the resilience of the beleaguered region's already sluggish economy. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
A broker works at a brokerage firm in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, March 9, 2020. As fear grips global financial markets, sending stocks, bond yields and oil prices diving, Latin America is bracing for an economic fallout that could test the resilience of the beleaguered region's already sluggish economy. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Sao Paulo’s stock exchange halted trading temporarily for the second time this week Wednesday because of heavy losses amid a global wave of concern for the spread of the new coronavirus and tumbling oil prices.

Trading was stopped on Brazil’s Bovespa shortly after 3 p.m. local time when it had fallen 10.11%. The dip took place shortly before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

When trade returned the scenario didn’t look much different, with the Bovespa falling 12% shortly after 4:30 p.m. and shares of Brazil’s state-run oil giant Petrobras among the biggest losers, down more than 14%.

Trade was also interrupted on Monday for the first time since 2017.

The Bovespa’s losses also came after Brazil’s government reduced its economic growth prediction this year from 2.4% to 2.1%, a figure that some analysts believe is still too optimistic.

The rout came as stocks tumbled again on Wall Street. Shares fell from the opening of trading in New York, including a 5.1% loss for the S&P 500. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more 1,400 points and is down more than 20% from its record set last month.

The stakes are rising as the WHO cited “alarming levels of inaction” by governments in corralling the virus when it made its pandemic declaration.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus, but the fear is that COVID-19 could drag the global economy into a recession by hitting it from two ends.