Wall Street hammered on coronavirus fears while Dublin dips 4%

Markets report: European stocks mark their weakest close in more than four months

 Fears over a spike in coronavirus cases sent European stock markets tumbling to a four-month low on Thursday

Fears over a spike in coronavirus cases sent European stock markets tumbling to a four-month low on Thursday

 

Panic sparked by a spike in coronavirus cases sent European stock markets tumbling to a four-month low on Thursday.

DUBLIN

The Iseq index closed 3.84 per cent on the day. Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment shed more than 8 per cent after reporting that profits fell 38 per cent to €164.3 million last year as it stepped up US investment and felt the impact of new taxes and regulatory charges.

Flutter lost as much as 10 per cent, but clawed back some ground to close 8.22 per cent down at €96.60. Chief executive Peter Jackson agreed that coronavirus could hit the sporting events on which many of the gambling giant’s customers like to bet.

Traders said that poor results from betting software maker Playtech fed through to gambling-related stocks as a whole.

Ryanair closed 2.5 per cent down at €12.315 after hitting lows of €11.73. The airline made back some of the ground lost late in the day.

Another heavyweight, packager Smurfit Kappa, fell 4.11 per cent to €31.24, while building materials giant CRH ended 4.57 per cent down at €31.56.

AIB shed 6.94 per cent to close at €2.066. Rival Bank of Ireland was 4.63 per cent down at €3.42.

Insurer FBD Holdings, which reported that profits increased 125 per cent to €112.5 million, dipped 0.67 per cent to €8.90, making it one of the market’s better performers.

House-builders and property stocks took a hammering as reports suggested that Fianna Fáil, one of the three parties most likely to participate in government, favoured rent freezes.

Cairn Homes shed 1.93 per cent to close at €1.22. Glenveagh Properties, which is due to report 2019 results on Friday, retreated 4 per cent to 76.8 cent. Irish Residential Properties Real Estate Investment Trust dropped 6.02 per cent to close at €1.468.

Dealers said that the coronavirus fear spread to food stocks. Ingredients specialist Kerry Group was 2.9 per cent off at €119.60.

Insulation maker Kingspan, whose chief executive Gene Murtagh last week said that coronavirus could affect the business if the outbreak dragged on, lost 2.07 per cent to €59.

LONDON

Irish DIY and builders’ merchant Grafton Group shed 2.51 per cent to 874.5 pence sterling.

Another Irish business, sandwich maker Greencore, which reported results earlier in the week, shed 4.18 per cent to close at 215.6p.

Aer Lingus-owner International Consolidated Airlines’ Group, which is due to report 2019 results on Friday, retreated 7.9 per cent to 515.4p. Budget carrier and Ryanair rival EasyJet shed 7.69 per cent to 1,110p.

London’s blue chip index lost 3.5 per cent of its value. Much of the damage was coronavirus-related. However, advertising giant WPP could not purely blame the outbreak as its shares plummeted 16 per cent to 761.6p after its reported that its most-watched measure of revenue, which removes pass-through costs, fell 0.3 per cent to £10.8 billion in 2019.

Standard Chartered fell 3.5 per cent after the bank said a key earnings target would take longer to meet as the epidemic adds to headwinds in China and Hong Kong.

EUROPE

European stocks marked their weakest close in more than four months on Thursday. The pan-European Stoxx index, which retreated 3.8 per cent for the day, has fallen more than 10 per cent from a record high hit on February 19th.

Air France KLM lost 7.17 per cent to close at €7.38 as investors ditched airlines fearing travel will suffer as the epidemic continues. German group Lufthansa suffered similarly, shedding 6.05 per cent to €12.27.

US

Wall Street was hammered by fears that coronavirus would hit growth and company earnings.

The main indexes plunged on Thursday in their sixth straight day of declines with the S&P 500 confirming its fastest correction in history as the rapid global spread of coronavirus intensified investor worries about economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,197.43 points, or 4.44 per cent, to 25,760.16, the S&P 500 lost 137.99 points, or 4.43 per cent, to 2,978.4 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 414.30 points, or 4.61 per cent, to 8,566.48.

Bank of America slashed its global growth forecast to the lowest since the peak of the financial crisis. Additional reporting – Reuters