Trump to meet with economic advisers as coronavirus pummels markets

U.S. President Donald Trump descends from Air Force One at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Sanford, Florida, U.S., March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other economic officials later on Monday to weigh possible actions to stem the fallout over the coronavirus, an administration official told Reuters.

The Trump administration is weighing a number of potential policy steps, including paid sick leave, the official said.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow will also participate in the meeting to consider economic proposals as U.S. stocks continued to slide on Monday amid growing concerns of the rapid spread of the coronavirus and the potential for a global recession.

Officials last week said they were considering a range of options, including help for airlines and other affected travel-related industries. The Washington Post on Monday reported that a cash infusion for small businesses was another option.

Trump “and his economic team have the tools to keep this economy going strong,” U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar told reporters at the White House on Monday. “They’ve got tools to deal with that.”

Trading on U.S. stock exchanges was halted immediately after opening, as the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX fell 7% to its lowest level since June 2019. The drop triggered an automatic 15-minute cutout put in place after the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Oil markets also plunged as oil producing countries fought over how to cope with the outbreak of the virus.

Trump, who has staged his re-election campaign in large part on the strength of the U.S. economy, on Twitter blamed the economic fallout on the media and the fight over oil prices between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Alexandra Alper in Washington; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis