Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures fall as crude oil prices plunge 30% on price-war fears

U.S stock futures and crude oil prices plunged in electronic trading late Sunday, as fears of a global oil-price war combined with coronavirus fears to rattle traders.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures
YM00,
-4.56%

were last down more than 1,100 points as S&P 500 futures
ES00,
-4.89%

and Nasdaq Composite futures
NQ00,
-4.82%

tumbled more nearly 5%.

S&P 500 futures trading was briefly halted late Sunday when so-called circuit breakers were triggered after a 5% fall.

Read:Here’s when S&P 500 circuit breakers kick in on Monday

West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery
CLJ20,
-33.43%

plummeted 31% to $28.32 on Sunday, while May Brent crude
BRNK20,
-30.68%

the global crude benchmark, fell 29% to $32.09 a barrel.

Oil futures plunged 10% on Friday after talks between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies collapsed, with Russia refusing to agree to a Saudi-led plan for additional crude production cuts.

In response, Saudi Arabia over the weekend slashed crude prices and is preparing to increase production, in a direct attack against Russia’s market share, the Wall Street Journal reported.

See:An all-out war for dominance has erupted among OPEC and its allies, and now oil investors brace for a race to the bottom on prices

Goldman Sachs analysts on Sunday said a price war could push crude prices down to $20 a barrel, especially as the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak slows global demand. Those price levels “will start creating acute financial stress and declining production from shale as well as other high-cost producers,” Goldman warned.

Read:Goldman says coronavirus and oil ‘price war’ could see crude plunge into the $20s

“Complete pandemonium at the open,” wrote Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp, late Sunday. “The shock-and-awe Saudi strategy will propel oil markets into a period of radical uncertainty. Russia balking was one thing, but Saudi ramping up production is a bird of another feather.”

“U.S. shale and Canadian tar sands are in for a nightmarish year, I fear,” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior Asia Pacific market strategist at Oanda, late Sunday. “Production becoming a battle of who has the deepest pockets.”

On the COVID-19 front, Italy virtually locked down its northern region, containing about a quarter of its population, on Sunday in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, a number of schools closed in California and events were canceled, as a cruise ship hit by coronavirus prepared to dock in Oakland on Monday, with authorities preparing plans to transport the 3,500 passengers to military bases around the country for testing and quartantine. As of Sunday, the virus had sickened 107,897 people worldwide, with 3,658 deaths.

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.98%

settled 256.50 points lower, or 1%, to 25,864.78, while the S&P 500
SPX,
-1.70%

lost 51.57 points, or 1.7%, to close at 2,972.37. The Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-1.86%

finished 162.98 points lower, or 1.9%, at 8,575.62.

Mark DeCambre contributed to this report.

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