Financial markets in the U.S. were briefly stopped on Monday after stocks plunged minutes into the session — the third trading halt in three weeks amid mounting investor fears over the coronavirus pandemic. The freeze came despite this weekend’s emergency cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve. When trading resumed, the Dow plunged 2,684 points, or nearly 12%, to 20,502. The broader S&P 500-stock index index tech-heavy Nasdaq both slumped more than 10%. Trading is halted when stocks decline by 7%, 13% or 20% in a single session. It’s the third trading halt since last Monday. The measures were first adopted after the 1987 crash, and until this week hadn’t been tripped since 1997. The Fed’s surprise rate cut on Sunday is designed to shore up the economy by making it cheaper to borrow and to keep lending flowing to businesses and consumers. Even so, Wall Street is growing increasingly pessimistic because consumer spending — a bedrock of the U.S. economy — appears to be grinding to a halt as Americans hunker down to avoid the coronavirus. Across the U.S., states and cities are closing schools, bars and restaurants, and other businesses in an effort to slow the disease, a potentially devastating

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