Investors are facing their biggest weekly loss in years as the deadly coronavirus wreaks havoc on stock markets around the world.
Major benchmarks on both sides of the Atlantic have already fallen more than 8 per cent since the start of trading on Monday.
As the sell-off accelerated overnight, the Dow Jones closed down 1190.95 points on Wall Street, following the worst session in London for four-and-a-half years.
That has taken losses in the last six days of trading to £2.8trillion (RM15.2trillion) – leaving savers all over the world nursing heavy losses on their pensions and other investments.
As spooked investors bailed out of shares, one seasoned expert declared: ‘We’re in panic mode.’
Multinational companies including Aston Martin, Microsoft, Standard Chartered and Budweiser owner AB Inbev warned about the impact of the virus.
Airlines and travel companies are among the worst hit as flights to affected areas are shunned by passengers or cancelled.
British Airways owner IAG was down 7.9 per cent yesterday. And Easyjet fell another 7.7pc and has lost more than a quarter of its value this week.
Philip Marey, senior US strategist at Rabobank, said: ‘Markets have come to realise that the outbreak is much worse and are realistically pricing in the impact on the economy.
‘It’s a bit of a catching up from the relative optimism that was there in the beginning when markets thought the virus will be contained to China with some minor outbreak outside.’
The Stoxx 600 index of eurozone shares fell 3.3 per cent, leaving European investors set for the worst week since the single currency debt crisis in 2011.
Wall Street was on course for its grimmest week since the financial crisis in 2008.
And in the UK, the FTSE 100 index took its biggest percentage hit in four-and-a-half years, falling 3.5 per cent, or 246.07 points, to 6796.4.
Meanwhile the FTSE 250, which includes more UK-focused firms, was down 4.1 per cent, or 839.5 points, to 19783.45
This was the FTSE 250’s largest percentage drop since June 2016, in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.
It means £188.6billion (RM1.03trillion) has been wiped off the value of Britain’s 350 biggest listed firms so far this week.
The sell-off has also wiped £2.8trillion (RM15.2trillion) off the value of global shares in six days.
This has led to an alarming fall in the value of investment portfolios and pension pots, which are typically invested heavily in blue-chip companies.
‘We’re in panic mode,’ said Jim Paulsen, who is the chief investment strategist of the Leuthold Group.
‘This isn’t just a temporary pull-back where people are wondering whether to buy the dip, this is people not wanting to touch this.’
British Airways has cancelled flights to mainland China until the end of March and also axed some flights to and from Milan as a result of reduced demand for travel to the area, which is at the centre of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak.
Shares in Norwegian Air plunged by a quarter in value to an 11-year low yesterday, meaning it has now lost more than half its value since the beginning of the week.
– Daily Mail