The relentless march of the Covid-19 virus and its growing death toll dealt another hammer blow to global financial markets yesterday.
London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 Index ended the session 215.03 points, or 4% lower at 5,151.08 – its lowest level since November 2011.
Steelmaker and miner Evraz, software firm Sage Group, multinational assurance, inspection, product testing and certification company Intertek Group, and online grocer Ocado Group were among those bucking the trend in the top flight, up by 6.34%, 5.29%, 5.16% and 4.23% respectively.
But it was another dark day for the Footsie overall as coronavirus continued to wreak havoc on share prices.
The FTSE 250 Index fell nearly 8% to 14,349.75 points, with Aberdeen-based transport giant FirstGroup shedding nearly half of its market value – hundreds of millions of pounds – as its shares dropped to 40p, from 76.65p on Friday, after investors counted the likely cost of a lack of passengers.
JD Wetherspoon shares were down nearly 23% at £7.10, as the company faces the prospect of people staying away from its bars, while rival pub groups Marston’s and Mitchells & Butlers saw their stock crash by 45.19% to 28.42p and 32.45% to £1.53.
The Restaurant Group (down 46.45%), bingo hall operator Rank Group (off 36.03%) and cinema chain Cineworld Group (lower by 15.14%) were among the other firms taking a big hit.
EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways all announced swingeing cuts to their flight schedules, causing their shares to plunge. BA parent International Consolidated Airlines Group slumped by just over 27%, while easyJet and Ryanair were lower by 19.32% and 12.7% respectively.
Other leading stock exchanges around the world reflected the impact of Covid-19, with protective masks on some trading floors highlighting the unprecedented times.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones fell nearly 10% in early trading. The German Dax slid by 5.31%, and France’s Cac moved 5.75% lower.