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European shares slump to 2012 lows

imageStock Markets1 hour ago (Mar 16, 2020 05:15AM ET)

By Sagarika Jaisinghani

(Reuters) – European shares tumbled more than 8% on Monday as the coronavirus pandemic raged through much of Europe, with dramatic monetary easing by global central banks failing to reassure investors about its growing economic damage.

The pan-European STOXX 600 (STOXX) fell 8.2% to its lowest since November 2012, with bourses in France (FCHI) and Spain (IBEX) leading losses as the two countries joined Italy in enforcing a national lockdown.

Airlines and holiday operators including TUI (L:TUIT), EasyJet (L:EZJ), British-Airways owner IAG (L:ICAG) and Air France – KLM (PA:AIRF) were among the biggest decliners on the STOXX 600 as the pandemic brought global travel to a standstill.

The wider travel and leisure index (SXTP) plunged more than 12%. Europe’s fear gauge jumped to a record high of 87.90.

“The issue for investors is that the virus’ economic impact is still not known – if this is a one-month event or a one-year event, and how deep the cutback in consumer spending is going to be,” said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

The U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near zero in its second emergency move this month and pledged hundreds of billions of dollars in asset purchases, saying the epidemic was having a “profound” impact on the economy.

Central banks in Japan, Australia and New Zealand followed with their own measures, but could not stem a slide in global stocks. S&P 500 futures fell 4.77% to their daily down limit shortly after resuming trading on Sunday night.

The benchmark European index has now lost more than a third of its value since hitting a record high mid-February, with declines made worse by a crash in oil prices and the European Central Bank’s decision to hold interest rates last week.

Latest economic data from China showing factory production plunging at its sharpest pace in 30 years has also re-ignited fears of a global recession as the pandemic paralyses supply chains and crushes business sentiment.

Europe’s banks index (SX7P) fell about 9.9%, with French banks Natixis (PA:CNAT) and SocGen (PA:SOGN) giving up between 14.1% and 12.6%.

Credit Suisse (S:CSGN) plummeted 12% to a record low after a report that U.S. prosecutors were investigating the bank’s role in a $2 billion Mozambique corruption case.

All eyes will now be on a Group of Seven teleconference at 1400 GMT to discuss the health crisis.

European shares slump to 2012 lows

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