Shares slide again as coronavirus pandemic spreads 

Shares slide again as coronavirus pandemic spreads and traders shrug off emergency measures

Stock markets were plunged back into turmoil as the coronavirus was declared a pandemic and traders shrugged off emergency measures to prop up economies.

The FTSE 100 fell to a new four-year low despite the Bank of England cutting interest rates from 0.75 per cent to 0.25 per cent and Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiling a £30billion plan to stimulate the economy.

Delivering his first Budget, Sunak said the economy faced a ‘significant impact’ from the virus, even if it was likely to be temporary. 

The FTSE fell to a new four-year low despite the Bank of England cutting rates from 0.75 per cent to 0.25 per cent and Rishi Sunak unveiling a £30bn plan to stimulate the economy

And the Office for Budget Responsibility warned: ‘A recession this year is quite possible if the coronavirus causes widespread economic disruption.’

Italy yesterday unveiled a £22billion plan to cushion the economic impact – up from estimates that it would need £6.6billion. 

Wall Street crashed after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the outbreak was a pandemic, meaning it is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries.

WHO director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organisation is deeply concerned by ‘alarming levels of inaction’.

More than 1,500 points were wiped off the Dow, which fell more than 6 per cent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq each dipped by more than 5 per cent. 

Earlier, Goldman Sachs spooked the market with a prediction that the S&P will fall by a further 15 per cent.

The falls continued a roller-coaster week that saw stocks worldwide plunge on Monday, triggered by Saudi Arabia and Russia starting an oil price war, which sent prices plunging by more than a third. 

Oil dropped by 3.9 per cent to around $36 a barrel yesterday after Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco said it had been ordered to raise its production capacity by 1m barrels per day.

This risks flooding the market – and pummelling prices further – at a time when demand is falling because of transport lockdowns. Traders also fretted about the US government response to the outbreak.

President Donald Trump’s administration has failed to provide clear details about a ‘very dramatic’ measures it promised on Monday to protect businesses and even hourly wage earners ‘so that they can be in a position where they’re not going to ever miss a paycheck’.

Chris Beauchamp, analyst at online trading platform IG, said: ‘US markets have begun the session with more big losses, repeating the pattern of the week so far.

‘For the most part, bounces are selling opportunities, and this will remain the case until the US government decides to embark on a huge stimulus programme that will make Rishi Sunak’s £30billion effort seem like a popgun by comparison.

‘But since there is no sign of such a stimulus yet, investors continue to fret about the spread of the coronavirus in the US, which seems woefully unprepared.’

There were more than 1,000 cases of the Covid-19 virus in the US last night, with 32 deaths.

Last night the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, ramped up the amount of money it was injecting into short-term borrowing markets, to minimise volatility.


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