Mar 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Trump brushes off coronavirus as reason for stock market plunge

Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Monday that cratering oil prices and "Fake News" caused the stock market's plunge, brushing off Wall Street's increasing anxieties about the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: While oil price issues are certainly a significant driver of the market drop, Trump's tweets came after the illness' spread continued to worsen over the weekend across the globe.

  • Trading halted for 15 minutes on Monday morning after the S&P 500's losses hit 7%, marking the first use of "circuit breakers" for the markets implemented after the 2008 financial crisis.
  • The White House's mixed messaging on the illness, which has often been at odds with public health experts, has induced some confusion among businesses and the public on how to better prepare.
  • The president tried to pivot the issue back to the worries of average Americans, stating that "gasoline prices [are] coming down" in another tweet.

Worth noting: "Crude has become a bigger problem for markets than the coronavirus," Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge, told CNBC.

  • "It will be virtually impossible for the [S&P 500] to sustainably bounce if Brent continues to crater."

Between the lines, via Axios' Ben Geman: This appears to be Trump's first effort to manage the politics of the oil price collapse.

  • While the price drop will indeed send gasoline prices down further, it will also bring economic pain to U.S. oil-producing regions where development is expected to slow.

Go deeper: Trump Jr. defends saying Democrats want millions to die from coronavirus

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The fallout from oil's collapse

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

ExxonMobil, citing an "unprecedented environment," said last night that it plans to "significantly" cut spending in light of the coronavirus and the collapse in oil prices.

Why it matters: The oil giant's announcement is the latest sign of how deeply the upended market is affecting the sector.

Oil prices plunge as market absorbs OPEC-Russia split

A Kuwaiti trader checks stock prices at Boursa Kuwait in Kuwait City, on March 8, 2020. Photo: Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images

Oil prices nosedived to four-year lows Sunday as trading resumed after Friday's collapse of the OPEC-Russia production-limiting pact, a rupture slated to increase supplies at a time when the novel coronavirus is sapping demand.

The state of play: The immediate 31% collapse when trading resumed last night was the second-largest on record behind the 1991 Gulf war, Bloomberg reports.

Trading halted as U.S. stocks plummet

Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The stock market fell as much as 7% on Monday morning — a decline so steep that trading was halted for 15 minutes.

Why it matters: The massive sell-off points to Wall Street's anxiety about the global economy. The steep declines come as Saudi Arabia launched an oil price war against Russia over the weekend, while the coronavirus outbreak worsened.