European stock exchanges go into freefall over coronavirus concerns

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A screen displays the CAC 40 amongst stock tickers displayed at the headquarters of the Pan-European stock exchange Euronext, in La Defense district, near Paris, on March 9, 2020. (AFP Photo).

Europe’s key stock markets tumbled by more than 5% on Thursday after being dealt with the latest coronavirus blows, one from across the Atlantic and the other one from the U.N. health agency.

London and Paris stock exchanges suffered significant crashes Thursday as the COVID-19 panic grasped the financial world.

The main CAC 40 index on the Paris stock exchange has closed at 4,044.26, down 12.28% on Wednesday’s close and down more than 33% from a month ago, while the FTSE finished with a 9.81% drop, recorded as its worst day in three decades.

Panic selling at the Frankfurt stock exchange pushed Germany’s blue chip DAX below 10,000 points for the first time since mid-2016, as investors reacted to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) assessment that the COVID-19 outbreak has turned into a pandemic.

Also late on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a U.S. entry ban for travellers from the European Schengen zone while failing to provide concrete measures to counter the global economic impact of the coronavirus.

The DAX fell by 5.5% in opening trading on Thursday, dropping to 9,864 points.

The Paris stock exchange’s key CAC 40 index also slumped more than 5%.

The index opened on 4,374.67, down from an already weak close of 4,610.25 the previous evening and more than 28% down on its close of Feb. 12.

Trump excluded Britain from the entry ban, but London’s key FTSE 100 index lost more than 5% of its value in early trading as well.

The FTSE sank to a four-year low on Wednesday despite central bank and government measures to bolster the economy against the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Markets in the Nordic countries, Italy, Switzerland and Austria dropped at similar rates.

Shares across the globe have been steadily falling in value in recent weeks as fears of the global coronavirus pandemic grow and restrictions to prevent the spread take their toll on the economy.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 856.43 points on Thursday, or 4.41%, to close at 18,559.63. The Index had fallen 5.55% in the morning, the lowest since April 2017.

The broader Topix index was down 57.24 points, or 4.13%, at 1,327.88.

South Korea’s Kospi Index tumbled 3.87%, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.52%.

Indian stock markets suffered their biggest ever fall in absolute terms on Thursday, with the benchmark Sensex tanking over 2,700 points as the coronavirus pandemic rattled investors.

The 30-share Sensex plunged to 32,990.01 points in morning trade, a loss of 2,707.39 points from its previous close at 35,697.40. It was trading at 33,143.8, down 2,553.55 points, a loss of 7.15% around noon (0630 GMT).

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