London stock markets in coronavirus freefall

Europe’s stock markets including in London slumped over four percent today, as the coronavirus continued to spread and the number of cases exceeded 81,000.  

The FTSE 100 index of major British companies had fallen 4.1 percent to 6,752.68 points by the late afternoon to a new 13-month low.

Meanwhile, the Paris CAC 40 shed 4.3 percent to 5,443.11, and Frankfurt’s DAX 30 slid 4.1 percent to 12,254.94 compared with yesterday’s closing levels.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell warned of ‘more coronavirus carnage on the markets’ before noting ‘this is one of the worst weeks in recent memory’.

Mr Campbell added: ‘Terrifyingly, it’s not over yet. Friday is a tricky proposition.’   

The benchmark index has now dropped 8 per cent in four days amid concerns over more turmoil, with traders warning the virus could lead to ‘anaemic global growth’. 

TODAY: The FTSE 100 is pictured today, falling just over 3 per cent or 214 points to 6,828

THIS WEEK: The FTSE 100 has lost 7 per cent of its value over this week, and fell again today

THIS MONTH: The FTSE 100 had been stable for much of this month before falling this week

Airlines and holiday firms were among those worst hit, with shares in easyJet down 11 per cent, British Airways owner IAG falling 10 per cent and TUI dropping 9 per cent.

EasyJet has suffered harder than most, with shares collapsing 28 per cent in a week, as holidaymakers postpone short-haul trips and businesses reduce travelling.

The Luton-based airline’s market capitalisation today was about £4.3billion, meaning it has lost more than £1.5billion from its value of £5.9billion at the start of the week. 

However there was better news for other businesses, such as Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser which revealed sales of cleaning and hygiene products have increased. 

But the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev forecast a 10 per cent decline in first-quarter profits after the virus hit beer sales during the Chinese New Year.

Pedestrians walk past a board showing data at Tokyo's Nikkei Stock Average in Japan today

Pedestrians walk past a board showing data at Tokyo's Nikkei Stock Average in Japan today

Pedestrians walk past a board showing data at Tokyo’s Nikkei Stock Average in Japan today

Companies around the world are reporting how the outbreak was hitting profits and trading, with Aston Martin warning that Chinese customers are falling.

Top ten biggest fallers on FTSE 100 today

  1. WPP – 16.4%
  2. easyJet – 10.6% 
  3. International Airlines Group – 10.2%
  4. Evraz – 10.1%
  5. Carnival – 9.5%
  6. TUI – 8.5%
  7. Flutter Entertainment – 7.1% 
  8. Barclays  – 7%
  9. Persimmon – 6.9%
  10. Legal and General – 6.7%

Meanwhile Asian-focused bank Standard Chartered warned the economy in the region was taking a hit and Microsoft said computer sales were suffering.

It comes after stocks appeared to recover in Europe yesterday following two days of heavy falls, with the FTSE 100 rising 0.35 per cent or 25 points to 7042.

Almost £100billion was wiped off the value of the FTSE 100 on Monday and Tuesday as the virus spread, with the blue-chip index hitting a 12-month low.

Some traders had expected stock markets needed a ‘correction’ because they had been trading at record levels in recent months.

But others were questioning whether this was more than a correction.

US traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street yesterday

US traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street yesterday

US traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street yesterday

Ipek Ozkardeskaya, of Swissquote bank, said: ‘The slide we are seeing right now is not the correction of the recent stock rally, but the market’s understanding that the coronavirus outbreak would translate into significantly lower earnings and an anaemic global growth.

Two more people test positive in England for Coronavirus ‘passed on in Italy and Tenerife’

Two more people have tested positive for coronavirus in England, the Department of Health said.

The two patients have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres after contracting the virus in Italy and Tenerife, according to England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

The new cases bring the total number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 in the UK to 15.

Authorities in Italy have reported that the number of people infected in the country grew to 447 and 12 people have died.

And 168 Britons have been told to isolate themselves at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife.

‘If we add the fact that the crisis has only started outside China into the mix, there is a meaningful shift in stock valuations.’ 

Hopes were dashed yesterday when stock markets in the US rose in the morning, but as the day progressed they fell, with traders unimpressed with an intervention from US President Donald Trump.

Experts have warned savers to expect more turmoil, and urged them not to panic-sell.

Emma Wall from Hargreaves Lansdown said: ‘Coronavirus is, and will continue, impacting markets. That does not necessarily mean long-term investors should be overly concerned.

‘Timing the market is notoriously difficult, even professionals get it wrong. Trading on news events can often lead to bad outcomes – panic selling often locks in losses, and jumping back into the market is hard to do.’

Rebecca McVittie of Fidelity International said: ‘I think we should anticipate that this environment of heightened volatility continues.’

Coronavirus Q&A: What is the scale of the problem, what’s happening in the UK and is this a pandemic?

Coronavirus has spread from Wuhan in China to countries across the world, with more than 80,000 confirmed cases and nearly 3,000 deaths worldwide. Here is all you need to know today:

– What is the scale of the problem?

So far, China has reported a total of 78,497 cases, including 2,744 deaths. Outside China, there were 3,651, cases including 50 deaths. After Brazil confirmed Latin America’s first case on Wednesday, the virus has reached every continent except Antarctica.

– What’s happening in the UK?

There have been 15 confirmed cases in the UK so far following 7,132 people being tested. The latest two cases had the virus passed on in Italy where around 400 people have been infected with 12 deaths, and Tenerife where more than 160 Britons have been told to isolate themselves at a hotel where four guests tested positive. Eight of the confirmed UK cases have been discharged from hospital.

– What is the UK Government recommending people returning from infected regions do?

The UK Government said that people returning from Hubei province in China, Iran, lockdown areas in northern Italy, and special care zones in South Korea in the last 14 days should immediately self-isolate at home and call NHS 111. People returning from a number of other countries including the rest of China and Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore should self-isolate if they develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath. It also said that those returning from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and northern Italy above Pisa should self isolate if they show symptoms.

– What else is the Government doing to tackle the spread of the virus?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the NHS is looking to extend home testing to expand the number of people that can be screened for the virus. Some flu patients will also be assessed for coronavirus, with officials hoping this will spot any spread and put preventative measures in place. Public Health England has put the new system in place in eight NHS hospitals across the country while around 100 primary care sites, such as GP surgeries, will also participate in the new scheme.

– What about schools?

Although several schools have sent pupils home over fears of Covid-19 contact, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s primary school, Thomas’s Battersea, Public Health England’s general advice is for them not to close. Pupils at Burbage Primary School in Buxton, Derbyshire, were told the school would be closed on Thursday due to a “confirmed case of coronavirus amongst our parent population”.

– Is anyone benefiting from the outbreak?

Yes. On Thursday, consumer healthcare giant Reckitt Benckiser said the coronavirus has helped to drive greater demand for its Dettol and Lysol hygiene products.

– Is this a pandemic?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) no longer officially declares a pandemic, but says coronavirus remains an international emergency. Under the old system, a pandemic was declared when a new disease spread to several countries and showed sustained transmission between humans. Some experts say this is obviously happening with coronavirus. WHO has said it will start using the term pandemic in communications once it believes pandemic level is reached.

– What will happen if there is a pandemic?

Health leaders have said that if coronavirus becomes a global pandemic, then there were a number of contingency plans in place to halt its spread. England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that these include shutting schools, reducing public transport, and quarantining whole families. But he stressed the actions would depend on the scale of the outbreak and he was confident health services could cope with the current activity.

– What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars). The strain that has recently emerged is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The respiratory disease it causes has been named Covid-19 by WHO.

– Where did it come from?

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people, the World Health Organisation says. The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan in China.

– How is it spread?

The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with the virus coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person and can be picked up other people touching them then touching their nose or mouth, it added.

– What are the symptoms?

Initial symptoms of the novel coronavirus include fever, cough, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. More severe cases can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, sepsis and septic shock which can lead to death. There are no specific treatments or vaccines for a new coronavirus but symptoms can be treated.

– Can only people with no symptoms spread the virus?

The jury is still out on this one, although scientists believe there is evidence of asymptomatic transmission. The Department of Health has said it believes the risk of catching coronavirus from someone with no symptoms at all is low. But because many people with Covid-19 experience only mild symptoms, particularly during the early stages of the disease, it is possible to catch it from someone who has mild symptoms.

– Are some groups more at risk?

The UK Government says that based on current evidence most cases appear to be mild and that those who have died in Wuhan appeared to have pre-existing health conditions. The World Health Organisation has said that about four in five people who contract the virus get mild symptoms and recover. But it added that older people or patients with pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes are more at risk of developing serious illness.

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