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Worldwide stocks plummet

Markets in turmoil as Trump bans European travel to halt virus

Donald Trump

Action plan: Donald Trump

Markets suffered another bloodbath as Donald Trump announced a travel ban on Europe and threw worldwide business plans into chaos.

The US President announced a series of measures to help prop up companies but his suspension of travel from 26 European countries for 30 days sewed seeds of confusion. UK and Republic of Ireland travellers will still be allowed free access, adding to the muddle.

Investors, already spooked after the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, were sufficiently rattled by the statement to embark on a further round of selling.

The FTSE 100 closed down 10.87% or 639.04 points at 5,237.48, its second worst once day fall.

Travel, hospitality and retail companies were among the biggest losers but investors have dumped stocks across all sectors.

Earlier in the session, shares in the Restaurant Group, which owns Wagamama and Frankie and Benny’s, plunged by almost a third (30%). holiday company Tui was down almost 20%, PPHE Hotel group by 22.4%, while Whitbread, owner of Premier Inn, fell 16.8% .

Trading on Wall Street was halted minutes after the opening bell as the S&P 500 slid 7% and triggered a 15-minute cutout. The indexes are now more than 24% below their intraday record highs hit in February.

Investors were also unnerved by the absence of targeted stimulus measures and the lack of details on a public health response after Trump made no mention of widely expected payroll tax cuts.

The Dow Jones was trading 8.4% lower, the Nasdaq is down 8.2% and the S&P 500 is down 7.6%

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 4.4% lower, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 3.6%, and China’s Shanghai Composite was down by 1.9%.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration hoped to extend deadlines for tax payments, cover the cost of sick leave for staff forced to stay home and provide loan guarantees for affected industries, such as airlines.

The global airline industry says it is facing an economic hit of $113bn (£88bn) from the coronavirus-led drop on passengers.

Mr Trump’s travel ban will hit US airlines “extremely hard”. according to trade body Airlines for America.

Analysts have predicted some weaker airlines could go bust during this downturn.

Norwegian will scrap 4,000 flights and temporarily lay off around half its employees, public broadcaster NRK is reporting.

In China, airline passenger numbers slumped by 84.5% last month.

Hanks tests positive

US actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have been diagnosed with coronavirus while filming in Australia.

The 63-year-old star of Sleepless in Seattle and Saving Private Ryan is currently on the Gold Coast in Queensland filming Baz Luhrmann’s production about Elvis Presley.

Hanks, who is playing Presley’s manager, wrote on Instagram that he and Wilson had been feeling “a bit tired, like we had colds”. Tests found them to be positive.

The couple are now in isolation and the cast and crew attached to the film received an email instructing them to stay away from set after a member of the production tested positive for the virus.

Ms Wilson performed at the Sydney Opera House over the weekend.

Parades off

Edinburgh has called off its St Patrick’s Day parade, as has New York where it usually attracts around two million spectators, with more than 100,000 participants.

There has been no word on whether the Tartan Day parade in New York will go ahead in April.

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