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Coronavirus spread triggers historic stock-market plunge across globe as recession fears grow

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Stock markets across the world plummeted on Friday as analysts warned that the deadly coronavirus outbreak could trigger a recession. Global stocks have seen an estimated $6 trillion wiped off their value in little over a month and there was no sign of the rout easing on Friday, with the FTSE 100 dropping 3 per cent…

Stock markets across the world plummeted on Friday as analysts warned that the deadly coronavirus outbreak could trigger a recession.

Global stocks have seen an estimated $6 trillion wiped off their value in little over a month and there was no sign of the rout easing on Friday, with the FTSE 100 dropping 3 per cent immediately after opening. The UK’s blue-chip index of large companies briefly touched a three-and-a-half year low, before rallying to partially recoup some of the day’s losses.

Among the biggest fallers was International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways, which saw its shares tank after warning that the Covid-19 virus had caused a drop in demand for flights. The carrier has now lost more than a quarter of its value in less than 10 days. 

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Stock markets in Asia also plunged further on Friday after Wall Street registered its biggest single-day fall in nine years.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei plummeted 3.7 per cent, while markets in Seoul and Sydney dropped by more than 3 per cent, and Hong Kong and Shanghai sank by more than 2.5 per cent.

leftCreated with Sketch.
rightCreated with Sketch.

That followed a bloodbath of a session in New York on Thursday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed 1,100 points.

The S&P 500 slumped to its fastest-ever correction – meaning a fall of 10 per cent from a recent high – after reaching the milestone in just six trading days.

Connor Campbell, market analyst at Spreadex, said the historic falls would deepen when US markets opened again on Friday.

“The Dow Jones is facing a 500-point plunge when the bell rings on Wall Street, taking it below 25250 – more than 4000 points off last week’s all-time highs.

“Any market-rescuing positive headlines regarding the outbreak itself seem a way off.”

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Analysts warned that market turmoil offered a taste of the economic fall-out from a potential coronavirus pandemic.

“A worst case scenario of a global pandemic would undoubtedly have a significant economic impact, and given the fragile nature of the global economy could tip the world into recession,” said Richard Clode, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson.

“For now that remains a low-probability outcome and our on-the-ground reports from an assortment of technology companies in China give us confidence that with the right measures in place the virus could potentially be contained.”

Half of UK and US firms were already predicting a recession this year, according to a survey of 700 senior executives by trade finance provider Stenn.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, warned on Friday that the Covid-19 outbreak could damage Britain’s economy as multinationals struggle to supply goods and services amid factory shutdowns and cancelled flights.

“What we are picking up with some of our bigger companies and companies around the world is that supply chains… are getting a little tight. That’s lower activity,” Mr Carney told Sky News.

“There’s less tourism – as you can see on our streets here in the UK. That’s lower activity as well.

“We would expect world growth would be lower than it otherwise would be, and that has a knock-on effect on the UK.”

Oil prices also fell below $50 a barrel on the expectation that industrial activity will slow down sharply.

Companies that rely on tourism have been particularly badly hit as people call off trips. EasyJet’s shares are down 27 per cent in a week that has seen some flights cancelled due to weaker demand. BA owner IAG announced strong 2019 figures but warned coronavirus would hurt profits this year.

BA has suspended flights to mainland China – the epicentre of the outbreak – and has cut fits service to Hong Kong from two flights a day to one.

A rapid rise in confirmed cases in Europe prompted the Swiss government to ban events expected to attract more than 1,000 people. That means the car industry’s most high-profile showcase meeting, nect week’s Geneva Motor Show, is set to be cancelled after Switzerland.

The property industry’s annual get-together in France, MIPIM, is going ahead this week but a number of companies have dropped out, citing concerns over coronavirus’ spread.

Consumer-facing companies such as retailers and restaurant owners are also expected to be negatively impacted as shoppers stay home.

Firms in a host of sectors are also predicting they will be damaged by disruption to supply chains, many of which run through China.

Primark owner Associated British Foods warned this week of shortages of some clothing lines if its factories in China remain disrupted for prolonged periods.

A halt to production of iPhones in China forced Apple to announce that it did not expect to meet its second-quarter guidance but chief executive Tim Cook said on Thursday that factories supplying the tech company were beginning to reopen.

“China is getting the coronavirus under control,” Mr Cook told Fox Business.

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