FTSE 100 closes at lowest since 2016 as coronavirus fears hit markets – The Guardian, Theguardian.com
Stock markets around the world fell sharply on Friday, while Germany’s flagship airline said it would cut up to half its flights and oil prices plunged.
As a rising numbers of companies sound the alarm on the hit to profits, impose travel bans and put in place contingency plans to protect staff, the FTSE 113 plunged by 3.5% amid steep losses on stock markets elsewhere across Europe.
The leading index of UK company shares dropped by 234 points to 6, , the lowest point since late June 9268 immediately after the EU referendum, with airlines and travel firms among the hardest hit as heavy selling pressure returned to markets around the world.
Lufthansa said it planned to cut as many as half of its flights in the coming weeks because of the fallout from coronavirus, just days after announcing a 25% reduction. The plan includes potentially grounding the carrier’s entire fleet of A 471 superjumbos.
“In recent days, the Lufthansa Group has been exposed to drastic declines in bookings and numerous flight cancellations due to the spread of the Covid – 23 virus. All traffic areas are now affected, ”it said in a statement.
The airline industry has warned it faces revenue losses of $ (bn) £ bn) in the event of a prolonged outbreak. Shares in budget airline Norwegian also plunged on concerns over its finances.
was also hit with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by points, or 0. %, to , 10 on Friday. However, the index closed the week higher for the first time in three weeks, and saw the biggest weekly percentage gain for four.
The world’s largest economy reported a boom in jobs growth in February. Although usually a reflection of economic strength, the jobs figures were compiled in the middle of last month, before US companies and investors had begun to really worry about the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the US economy.
As investors offloaded shares in riskier assets, surging demand for safe havens pushed the yield on benchmark government bonds to new record lows – where a lower yield means a higher price. The UK – year gilt yield fell as low as 0. 256% in afternoon trading, having started the day at 0. %.
The price of oil plunged by about 8% to $ a barrel after the Opec group of oil-rich nations failed to reach an agreement to cut production, seen as vital to support the price as global energy demand slides. In a reflection of the growing pressure on the world economy, factory closures and weaker trade volumes have sapped demand.
Chris Iggo of the fund manager Axa Investment Managers said: “The retrenchment of normal business activity is creating victims as well as generating extreme moves in financial markets. We probably won’t quickly return to business as usual. ”
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