A quick recap on the devastation in financial markets.
Graeme Wearden reports financial markets have suffered fresh, heavy losses, as the coronavirus crisis escalates – threatening to cause major economic disruption.
Britain’s FTSE 100 slumped by 3.5%, taking it down more than 10% from its recent peak. The index has lost 8%, or £152bn, this week alone.
There were similar heavy losses across Europe, where stocks were hit by fresh cases of Covid-19 – including in Italy – and a warning from France’s president that an epidemic could be close.
Wall Street had another turbulent day too, with the Dow suffering its worst points fall ever – down 1,20 points. Further losses are expected on Friday.
Traders are very concerned about the impact of more cases in the US, with California revealing it is tracking 8,400 people.
There are also fears that the virus could even push the eurozone into recession.
In Australia, Ben Butler reports: Coronavirus fears have driven the Australian market down for the fifth day running, with the benchmark ASX200 index dropping almost 3.2% shortly after the opening bell.
Retailer Harvey Norman, which had experienced only very small falls this week, finally succumbed to selling pressure after releasing its half year results this morning.
Within half an hour of the opening bell its shares tumbled 7.9%, the third biggest fall among ASX200 stocks.
The company blamed “widespread bushfires and associated severe reductions in air quality that affected many communities” that hit franchisees during the peak Christmas shopping season for a 4.1% fall in its profits for the six months to the end of December compared to the same time the previous year.
Buy-now-pay-later company Afterpay, which has been something of a market darling, was the biggest loser in early trade, diving 9.4%.
Also plunging were stocks with exposure to the Chinese market or international travel, both of which have been disrupted by the virus crisis.
Online flight booking site Webjet and travel agency Flight Centre both fell more than 4%, national carrier Qantas dropped 3% and Air New Zealand, which is listed on the Australian exchange but is not part of the ASX200 index, was also down 3%.
Also punished was Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals, which exports iron ore to China. Its stock fell almost 5.8%.