London’s top stock index fell about 230 points as of 10.45am. It was 3.4 percent down at time of writing. Export-heavy companies listed on the index have now lost more than £178billion ($230bn) in value since the epidemic sparked a worldwide rout last week. Connor Campbell, analyst at financial spread better Spreadex said: “Investors are just in a bit of a panic because this thing isn’t going away and there are doubts of how impactful any stimulus by central banks will actually be in containing it.”
Interest rate-sensitive bank stocks shed 2%, as traders bet on further monetary easing by the US Federal Reserve after an emergency rate cut on Tuesday that sent benchmark Treasury yields to record lows.
London’s banking sector has been the third-biggest decliner this week, behind auto parts and travel and leisure stocks, as the epidemic wreaked havoc on supply chains and forced some European companies to evacuate offices.
Britain said an older person with underlying health problems had succumbed to the virus on Thursday, while the number of infections jumped to 115. The disease has now killed over 3,000 people worldwide.
The resulting hit to business activity has prompted sharp cuts to global economic growth forecasts for the year, while the market’s fear gauge marked its sharpest jump on record in this quarter.
FTSE 100 sheds 230 points in just three hours as coronavirus panic sweeps through (Image: GETTY)
Underlining the panic over the threat of economic disruption, cinema operator Cineworld slid 5% despite saying it had not observed any significant impact on its movie theatre admissions.
The wider travel sector index fell 2.8%, bringing its total declines for the week to over 9%, as airlines and cruise operators continued to slump on crippled travel demand.
Cruise operator Carnival hit its lowest level since 2012 and was among the top decliners on the FTSE 100, a day after its Grand Princess ocean liner was barred from returning to its home port of San Francisco on virus fears.
Among other stocks, insurer Aviva Plc fell 2% after saying it would exit from Indonesia by selling its entire stake in joint venture PT Astra Aviva Life to its partner in the operation.