Coronavirus panic sweeps through global markets

Iseq all-share index ends day over 2.6 per cent in the red and over 11.5 per cent down for the week

European shares ended the week down roughly $1.5 trillion in their worst weekly performance since the 2008 financial crisis as the rapid spread of coronavirus outside China saw sustained selling on fears of a recession.


The Iseq all-share index finished the session more than 2.6 per cent in the red on the day, and more than 11.5 per cent down for the week.

Travel and tourism-related shares were, predictably hit the hardest. Dalata Hotel Group, the largest hospitality company in the State, fell more than 6.2 per cent to close at €4.16. Irish Continental Group, the owner of Irish Ferries, also performed poorly, down 4.8 per cent to €3.88.

Major globally-focused Irish multinationals were also badly affected. Kerry Group fell 3.85 per cent to €115, while Glanbia was down 3.65 per cent to €10.65.


CRH, which reported full-year results on Friday, fell by 3.45 per cent to €30.47, despite hiking its dividend by 15 per cent.


London's FTSE 100 dropped to its lowest level since June 2016 as investor fears that the coronavirus outbreak could spark a global recession intensified. Airlines were the worst hit, with the situation intensified after British Airways and Aer Lingus owner IAG said its earnings would take a hit this year as passenger numbers tumbled.

It said it would cut flights to Italy, Singapore and South Korea, reflecting a drop in passenger numbers. IAG fell 8.4 per cent, while other airlines Easyjet, Air France and Lufthansa dropping between 0.9 per cent to 6.4 per cent.

British aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce was among a handful of stocks in the black on the main index, rising 4 per cent as its chief executive said the company was looking forward to 2020 with some degree of conviction and confidence. This helped offset disappointing 2019 results.

Biotechnology firm Novacyt soared 30 per cent after signing its first major distribution agreement to supply its coronavirus test to two Asian territories outside mainland China.


The pan-regional STOXX 600 index fell 3.5 per cent on Friday, deepening its slide into correction territory with a 13.2 per cent plunge from a record high hit on Wednesday last week.

All European subsectors were well in the red, with chemicals, insurance and telecom leading losses for the day, shedding more than 4 per cent each.

Germany’s BASF was among the biggest percentage losers in the chemical subindex after it warned that earnings could drop further this year. Travel and leisure stocks underperformed their peers by a wide margin over the week, dropping about 18 per cent.

Milan-listed shares fell 3.6 per cent. The number of people infected in Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country, surpassed 850 on Friday. German stocks dropped 3.9 per cent as the number of cases in the country rose to 60.

Insurer Munich Re was among the worst performers for the day after its fourth-quarter profit dropped. French publisher Lagardere SCA bottomed out the STOXX 600 after reporting lower 2019 revenue. The firm also appointed former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to its advisory board.

New York

Wall Street plunged in a volatile trading session heading into the weekend, extending a steep selloff from last week over coronavirus.

The three main stock indexes pared losses and the Nasdaq briefly turned positive on gains in technology stocks including Microsoft Corp and chipmakers Nvidia and Qualcomm.

However, the Dow Jones Industrials slumped more than 1,000 points during the session and if the index closes below this level, it would be its fifth 1,000-point decline in history and the third this week.

Among individual stocks, Mylan NV dropped 8.3 per cent after the drugmaker cautioned a financial hit from the coronavirus outbreak and warned of drug shortages in case of continued spread of the virus.

(Additional reporting: Reuters)

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column