It’s been a brutal few weeks for the stock market, which has now officially lost all of the gains of the “Trump bull market” amid panic over the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, the New York Stock Exchange announced that it was taking an unprecedented step in response to the virus: temporarily shutting down its historic trading floor — the first time that’s ever been done independently — and moving to fully electronic trading.
The decision was sparked by two people testing positive for coronavirus this week after the exchange set up screenings. “The closure was in part as a result of positive coronavirus tests of two people, Stacey Cunningham, President of the NYSE, told CNBC,” the outlet reports. “The entrants were stopped at the medical screenings at the Big Board.”
“We implemented a number a number of safety precautions over the past couple of weeks, and starting on Monday this week we started pre-emptive testing of employees and screening of anyone who came into the building,” Cunningham told CNBC Wednesday. “If that screening warranted additional testing, we tested people and they were sent home and not given access to the building. A couple of those test cases have come back positive.”
“The facilities to be closed are the NYSE equities trading floor and NYSE American Options trading floor in New York, and NYSE Arca Options trading floor in San Francisco,” CNBC reports.
The fully electronic trading is set to begin at the open of March 23.
On Wednesday, the “Trump bull market” officially lost all of its gains since he first took office in January 2017, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing “more than 30% of its value in just over a month,” as reported by Bloomberg‘s Sarah Ponczek and Vildana Hajric.
“To be sure, the market surged as soon as Trump was elected, adding close to 8% in the 2 1/2 months before his inauguration, and could of course rise again,” Ponczek and Hajric note. “…The equity market’s ride under the current administration hasn’t always been smooth. In 2018, the S&P 500 dropped a hair shy of 20% before surging 29% the next year, one of the best periods in the last two decades. Before the latest tumble, U.S. companies had added roughly $12 trillion in value under Trump’s tutelage, leaving the president highlighting 401(k) performances as recently as January.”
Early Thursday, U.S. stock futures made some mild gains, with Dow futures up 0.2%, the S&P futures up 0.1%, and Nasdaq futures up 0.9%.
CNN Business points to the emergency measures taken by the European Central Bank, which announced Thursday that it would pump $821 into the embattled financial system, as having had some positive impact on trading.
The White House is also working on its own emergency stimulus package, which is expected to cost around $1 trillion and include around $500 billion in payroll tax cuts, $250 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and around $60 billion for the airline industry as well as other measures. As reported by The Washington Post Wednesday, the package is also expected to include $500 billion in cash payments to qualified Americans. The stimulus package would come in addition to the Senate’s more modest economic relief package.