It is mayhem on the BSE in Mumbai, with stocks falling 10 per cent immediately after trading started on Monday. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Mumbai: Indian equities plunged 10 per cent on Monday, triggering a 45-minute trading halt for the second time this month as authorities ordered a lockdown in much of Asia’s third-largest economy to fight the spread of coronavirus cases.

The S&P BSE Sensex fell as low as 26,924.11. The suspension will last for 45 minutes. The rupee fell as much as 1.3 per cent to 76.1563 to a dollar, a new low, as foreigners continued to yank money from local stocks and bonds.

Investors have been fleeing risk assets as the economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic threatens to outpace the massive response from governments and central banks. Overseas funds have pulled a combined $12.5 billion from Indian equities and bonds as warnings about the damage to the global economy accelerates the global rush for dollars.

A further 15 per cent slump on resumption of trading before 1pm local time will trigger another halt lasting an hour and 45 minutes, according to exchange rules. Trading was halted on March 13 in the nation’s first such suspension since 2009.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state leaders over the weekend imposed an almost-complete lockdown as infections approached 400. India’s financial markets and banks are open despite the restriction on peoples’ movements.