Stocks – Europe Falls on Virus Fears; Earning Reports Flow
European stock markets moved sharply lower Thursday, weighed by weakness in Asia as the death toll from the coronavirus continues to mount, and amid reports that the virus has now spread to India.
The U.K.’s FTSE index was trading 51 points, or 0.7%, lower, France’s CAC 40 was down 75 points, or 1.3%, while the DAX lost 155 points, or 1.2%. The Euro Stoxx 50 index dropped 43 points, or 1.2%.
Overnight China’s National Health Commission said the total number of confirmed deaths had reached 170 as of late Wednesday, with the number of infected patients approaching 8,000. Infections have been reported in at least 15 other countries and in every province of mainland China.
The efforts to curtail the growth of this virus are likely to have a significant negative shock on growth in the second largest economy in the world, something Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged during his press conference late Wednesday. The central bank decided to keep its interest rates on hold nonetheless.
JPMorgan economists on Thursday said these events could knock China’s growth in this quarter from a previously-forecast 6.3% to 4.9%, for a year-on-year figure of 5.6%.
Shares in Royal Dutch Shell dropped 4% after the Anglo-Dutch energy giant reported a sharp fall in full-year net profit on Thursday.BT Group slumped over 4% after the telecoms giant reported a drop in sales and underlying profit for the nine months to December.Deutsche Bank posted a hefty full-year net loss of 5.3 billion euros ($5.8 billion) as part of its huge restructuring.
Unilever said pretax profits for its full year fell by one-third, citing a significant slowdown in its South Asian markets.Shares in Diageo climbed 0.5% after the alcoholic beverages company reported 6% organic sales growth in the first half of its fiscal year in both North America and Asia Pacific.