March 16 (UPI) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 3,000 points Monday, putting the market on track for its worst month since the "Black Monday" market crash in 1987.
The Dow was down 2,997 points, or 12.93 percent, at the end of trading, reaching its lowest level in nearly three years. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.32 percent, and the S&P 500 ended the day down 11.98 percent. The sell-off activated a safety circuit breaker for the third time this month.
The S&P 500 shed 8 percent in early trading and prompted the mechanism to again cut power to trading infrastructure. The safety breaker, installed after the 1987 stock market crash to halt a market free fall, was activated twice last week.
Amid the concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak and falling oil prices, the S&P is down 16.9 in March putting it on track for the worst month of trading since October 1987.
Goldman Sachs strategists in a note to clients on Sunday warned that the S&P 500 could fall to 2,000 points by the middle of the year, a 41 percent drop from record highs a month ago.
"The coronavirus has created unprecedented financial and societal disruption," they wrote.
President Donald Trump on Monday said that the effects of the virus, which has caused many businesses to close, could last through July or August, saying the United States "maybe" heading toward a recession. Trump, however, said he believes markets will bounce back after the pandemic has passed.
"This is what panic looks like," Patrick Healey, president and founder of Caliber Financial Partners told The Wall Street Journal. "It doesn't matter what the Fed did over the weekend or what they could have done, the trading activity in the market is reflective of fear and uncertainty. The only thing that is going to calm the market is seeing the number of cases go down."
Despite the tumbling stock prices, president of the New York Stock Exchange, Stacey Cunningham, said the markets must remain open and function in a fair and orderly manner.
"While we are deeply conscious of, and sympathetic to, investors' concerns around price declines, the market is a reflection of the larger uncertainties that everyone is experiencing during these challenging days," she wrote. "Closing the markets would not change the underlying causes of the market decline, would remove transparency into investor sentiment, and reduce investors' access to their money. This would only further compound the current market anxiety."
Monday's market plunge occurred after oil prices also sank.
Brent crude fell 11 percent to just over $30 per barrel, its lowest price in four years. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude tumbled more than 9 percent and the New York Mercantile Exchange lost 7 percent.
"Oil prices have reacted extremely negatively and we believe that we have not seen the bottom of the oil price just yet," Bjoernar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets at Rystad Energy, said. "The potential loss of demand in March-April may dwarf anything the world has ever seen, just when OPEC-Plus producers open the floodgates of new supply to the market."