The French bourse regulator said on Tuesday it was banning short-selling in 92 stocks for the day, to try and tame the massive volatility in the markets caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

With markets under intense, sustained pressure from the pandemic, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said separately he was even ready to go as far as a month’s short-selling ban. “It is a good decision and a necessary decision,” Le Maire told a conference call.

Earlier the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) said that “taking into account the significant losses in recent days on the financial markets” it had decided “an urgent step” was needed. Investors use short-selling to bet the market will fall, putting tremendous downward pressure on prices at a time when buy interest is virtually non-existent.

The AMF said the ban would last all day Tuesday for the stocks involved, which had suffered especially badly on Monday when a global sell-off saw Wall Street plunge nearly 13 per cent. The move was in line with European regulations allowing such a move for a single day, it said.

The Paris market, like its European peers, did slightly better in early trade Tuesday, gaining 4 per cent, helped in part by the short-selling ban, dealers said. However by mid-morning, the gains were being eroded as investors once again turned sellers.