FTSE crisis: Market PLUMMETS in chaotic opening – coronavirus pandemic sparks global panic

London’s stock market fell past 2016 Brexit referendum lows as US President Donald Trump’s shock decision to introduce a ban on European travellers sent shares in already hard-pressed British Airways and other airlines down by almost another 10 percent. The blue-chip FTSE 100 fell 5.2 percent – its lowest since February 2016 – in early trading after the World Health Organisation’s upgraded the coronavirus to a worldwide pandemic. 

If it falls another 1.5 percent, the index will reach lows not seen since the height of the European debt crisis in 2012.

Although the UK was spared from the travel restrictions introduced by President Trump, fears were widespread over its impact on the travel sector.

Shares of British Airways, EasyJet and WIZZ Air, which have already had to axe flights to and from Italy, fell between 7 and 9 percent.

Oil majors BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc slipped between 4 and 5 percent, as oil prices took another blow from the dramatic moves by Mr Trump.

The World Health Organisation declared the deadly outbreak a pandemic and investors fear that a lack of a co-ordinated policy response will increase the damage to the global economy.

That sparked an end to the longest bull run in US stock market history, sinking the Dow Jones Industrial Average index tipped into bear market territory.

London’s domestically focussed FTSE 250 was also down 6.1 percent.

European stock index futures also plunged to their lowest since mid-2016 as investors worried about the economic shock from dramatic travel restrictions imposed by Mr Trump. 

Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 6.1 percent at 7am, after earlier plummeting as much as 8.3 percent. Meanwhile German DAX futures tumbled 6.0 percent. 

Tracking a global selloff, Hong Kong stocks also plunged to close at a near three-year low as worries deepened over the economic impact of the coronavirus. 

The Hang Seng index fell 3.7 percent, to 24,309.07, its lowest close since April 2017, while the China Enterprises Index lost 3.4 percent to 9,725.72.

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