UK stock market plunges as top companies lose £152b in 4 days over coronavirus

The FTSE 100 leading index of UK companies has lost £152billion in value in the past four days, over fears of the coronavirus outbreak.

Dramatic figures have revealed the index has fallen 8.2% so far this week, shedding £62billion on Thursday alone as outbreak spirals.

The virus that is spooking markets around the world also sent the London Stock Exchange tumbling to a new 13-month low earlier.

Traders had already been warning that the virus – which has killed more than 2,800 people – could lead to "anaemic global growth".

Aston Martin had warned that Chinese customers were falling, while Asian-focused bank Standard Chartered warned the economy in the region was taking a hit and Microsoft said computer sales were suffering.

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But on the markets, it is airlines and holiday firms that are being hardest hit, with shares in Tui, easyJet and British Airways owner IAG all down heavily this week.

EasyJet has suffered harder than most, with shares collapsing 26% in a week, as holidaymakers postpone trips and businesses reduce travelling.

Some traders had expected stock markets needed a "correction" because they had been trading at record levels in recent months. But some were questioning whether this was more than a correction.

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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.

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

There had some good news for businesses, though, with Reckitt Benckiser revealing sales of cleaning and hygiene products have increased on the back of the virus.

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However companies hate uncertainty, and with China accounting for 20% of the world's manufacturing, along with high-spending middle-classes not travelling, businesses are starting to assess the impact of any long-term outbreak.

The coronavirus is now currently sweeping Europe, with Italy being hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak with 14 deaths and more than 500 infections.

In the UK there has been 15 recorded cases so far, while Germany has seen 26 cases, France with 18 and Spain with 17.

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