The FTSE 100 plunged below 7,000 and to levels not seen since
December 2018 after a bloodbath start to the session prompted by fears over the
spread of the coronavirus.
More than 81,000 people have been infected with the virus with cases in 44 countries and every continent but Antarctica. Almost 3,000 people have died, the vast majority of them in the Hubei Province, China.
Nearer to home, there has been a cluster in Italy, the European hotspot, with 400 cases. Here in the UK, 13 people have been diagnosed with mild flu-like illness.
That said, preparations are being made for a far larger outbreak with the NHS on standby to cope with an increase in patient numbers.
The Dow Jones lost 123 points, while Asia’s main markets were also under pressure earlier Thursday.
“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 anemic global growth,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.
“If we add the fact that the crisis has only started outside China into the mix, there is a meaningful shift in stock valuations.”
It should be noted ex-dividend factors contributed to around a 28-point decline of the blue-chip index.
FTSE 100 SHORT (Sell)
ENTE AT: 6840.3