March 12, 2020 / 11:30 AM / 24 days ago

US STOCKS-Futures hover at down trading limit after Europe travel shock

* Airlines, cruise liners tank on Europe travel ban

* Lack of public health measures in Trump’s address spook market

* Futures down: Dow 4.95%, S&P 4.5%, Nasdaq 4.75% (Adds details, updates prices)

By Medha Singh

March 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures plunged on Thursday to trade near their 5% down limits after President Donald Trump ordered a halt in all travel from Europe, but failed to convince markets he could contain the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

S&P 500 e-minis fell 4.5% to 2,617 points, within striking distance of a daily down limit at 2,601 after Trump outlined steps to help small businesses, but made no mention of widely expected payroll tax cuts.

Shares of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines sank between 10.4% and 13.4% in premarket trading. Cruise liners Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd tumbled more than 12%.

Investors were concerned about the absence of targeted stimulus measures and the lack of details about the public health response, such as the provision of extra testing kits or subsidies for treatment.

“I am just left speechless for Trump to say this is the most comprehensive plan,” said Rob Carnell, chief economist Asia-Pacific at ING in Singapore.

“We are not getting any co-ordinated action across governments but we are also, in most cases, not getting co-ordination between central banks and governments.”

The longest bull run in U.S. history came to a shuddering halt for the Dow Jones Industrials on Wednesday, after the index fell more than 20% from its Feb. 12 closing high.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, which closed 19% below their record close on Feb. 19, were set to join the Dow in a bear market at the open on Thursday.

At 6:50 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 1,166 points, or 4.95% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 380 points, or 4.75%.

Markets will now keep an eye on the jobless claims report for the week ended March 7 to gauge whether the outbreak is impacting the labor market. The data is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Noah Sin in Hong Kong; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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