A woman wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is reflected in a screen displaying NASDAQ movements outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan March 16, 2020.
A woman wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is reflected in a screen displaying NASDAQ movements outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan March 16, 2020.

Asian stock exchanges plummeted across the board Monday in the first trading session since the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it was cutting its key interest rate to near-zero to respond to the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic.   

Australia’s key S&P/ASX 200 index led the huge sell-off, plunging nearly 10 percent at the closing bell,  while China’s Shanghai index and the Kospi in South Korea both fell just over three percent and Japan’s Nikkei closed 2.5 percent lower.   

Hong Kong's key Hang Seng index was down just over four percent in late day trading.

The fall extended into Europe’s early morning session, with London’s FTSE and the Dax exchange in Frankfurt both trading down at well under seven percent.   

The global economy has come to a virtual standstill as the United States and other governments around the world have ordered their citizens into a virtual quarantine, closing schools, restaurants, saloons, tourist attractions and entertainment venues to halt the spread of COVID-19, which has sickened more than 169,000 people worldwide and killed more than 6,500.  The U.S. central bank announced Sunday after an emergency meeting that it was cutting interest rates to lower the cost of borrowing to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic-triggered downturn. 

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