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Brazil stocks take new plunge on virus fears

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Brazilian stocks plunged more than 10 percent Wednesday on fears about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, leading the Sao Paulo stock exchange to suspend trading for the second time this week.

The 10.1 percent drop in the Ibovespa index triggered automatic circuit breakers that interrupt trading for 30 minutes in such cases, the stock exchange said in a statement.

That came two days after a “Black Monday” crash led to the same measure. That day, the index closed 12.7 percent down, its worst day since 1998.

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Oil and airline stocks were again hit especially hard, as the virus disrupted both industries.

Shares in state-run oil company Petrobras were trading down more than 12 percent, after losing 30 percent Monday.

Airlines Azul and Gol were down more than 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

The Ibovespa index had regained 7.14 percent Tuesday, but the latest losses erased that and then some.

Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, cut its 2020 economic growth forecast Wednesday to 2.1 percent over the coronavirus pandemic, saying the fallout would likely shave 0.3 percentage points — and maybe more — off the figure this year.

Brazil has 37 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. It has not reported any deaths so far.

But the economy is being hit hard because of Brazil’s close ties with China, its largest trading partner and the main destination for its key commodity exports.

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