Financial markets continue to plunge as investors worry about the spread of the coronavirus.
UK stocks have now slumped to their lowest level in three and a half-years. As the sell-off intensifies, the FTSE 100 was this Friday morning down nearly 4.5% - or 300 points - at just 6495 points.
That's its weakest level since July 2016, shortly after the Brexit referendum. Frankfurt's Dax is down 5% and the Cac in Paris is off 4.4%.
It is another catastrophic day for investors as global stock markets continue to fall"
The S&P 500, which just last Wednesday reached a record high, slid 4.4% on Thursday, its worst day since August 2011. The index is down 12% since that peak.
Asia Pacific stocks are being hammered for the fifth day running as investors scramble to offload shares and other risky assets.
The Nikkei is down 3.2% in Tokyo and the ASX200 in Sydney is down 2.4%. In Seoul, the market is down 2.3%, Hong Kong has shed 2% and Shanghai is off by 1.7%.
The Bombay stock exchange Sensex fell more than 3%.
The Stoxx 600 travel and leisure index is on track for its worst weekly percentage slide since the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11 2001. The index of 17 shares in European companies has fallen 18.8% this week, with British Airways parent IAG being the most hit with a 8.5% fall.
Brent crude, the international oil marker, has fallen 4% this morning, as the global market sell off continues into European trading. Brent was recently at $50.08, its lowest since mid-2017, as the coronavirus spread cripples oil demand.
Global stocks have now spilled $3trn just this week amid sustained coronavirus concerns, Reuters reported, while US Treasuries yields dipped to a record low.
Bloomberg has calculated that six trillion dollars has been wiped off global markets since January 20th.That was the moment when the first human-to-human transmission of coronavirus was confirmed by Chinese authorities.
The widening scope of the health crisis threatens to overwhelm global supply chains, especially in China, the world's second-largest economy after the United States. In addition, the outbreak could crush consumer demand, as people limit travel or stay home even without a government order to do so.
Mark Carney, the outgoing Bank of England governor, has warned that the Covid-19 outbreak could hit Britain's economic growth.
In an interview with Sky News, Carney (who leaves the bank next month) said the UK is already feeling the impact - and it could get worse.
What we are picking up with some of our bigger companies and companies around the world is that supply chains... are getting a little tight. That's lower activity.
There's less tourism - as you can see on our streets here in the UK. That's lower activity as well.
"We would expect world growth would be lower than it otherwise would be, and that has a knock-on effect on the UK.
"We're not picking that up yet at all in the European and UK economic indicators, but if the world is slower than the UK, a very open economy, will have an impact."
The virus has now spread to 47 countries and even reached sub-Saharan Africa for the first time. Nigeria's health minister, Osagie Ehanire, said the first case in the region was an Italian citizen who worked in Nigeria and had returned from Italy to Lagos.
The impact of coronavirus Covid-19 is spreading through Europe as 1,000 people are in quarantine in German town of Heinsberg.
Wales, Lithuania, Nigeria and New Zealand all reported their first cases today as the UK's total number of cases rose to 19.
The Swiss government has banned all events involving more than 1,000 people amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report by the PA news agency.
Russia's government said on Friday that it would temporarily bar entry to citizens of Iran and South Korea to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Banks around the world are working to ensure they can keep their businesses running as the virus spreads, restricting travel, splitting up teams and traders to different locations, quarantining staff and ensuring employees can work from home.
JPMorgan Chase issued global restrictions on non-essential travel to protect its employees and its business against the spreading coronavirus Because of the continuing spread of the virus, it's now "restricting all international travel to essential travel only," the New York-based bank said in a memo distributed to staff.
"The market is entering the period of peak fear": Industry reactions
"It is another catastrophic day for investors as global stock markets continue to fall," AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said.
"There is no sign of widespread bargain hunting by investors despite the cut-price shares on offer," he added.
"That might not happen until there is a clearer picture of how far and wide coronavirus has spread and how different countries are trying to contain it."
Markets.com's chief market analyst Neil Wilson said: "Global stocks have entered correction territory and it's now that we can start to consider the market is entering the period of peak fear.
"The market is crowding rapidly to price in the worst-case scenario, and I think now we can say the blood is running in the streets; the smart money will be looking at judiciously buying. The problem is that once fear takes over, a 10% correction can become a 20% bear market in no time, so if you are going in you need to be prepared to take a hit instantly."
Richard Clode, portfolio manager, Janus Henderson Global Technology Team added: "The situation outside of China remains much more fluid. A worst case scenario of a global pandemic would undoubtedly have a significant economic impact and given the fragile nature of the global economy could tip the world into recession.
"For now that remains a low probability outcome and our on the ground reports from an assortment of technology companies in China give us confidence that with the right measures in place the virus could potentially be contained. Historically, these sort of virus outbreaks have had a limited long-term impact on markets and companies. However, as custodians of client capital we remain highly vigilant."
Sarah Lien, client portfolio manager at Eastspring Investments, the $216bn Asian investment management arm of Prudential commented: "Past events, including the SARS outbreak, tells us that the trajectory of growth resumes once the crisis has passed; in other words, economic recovery will continue but it will be delayed. Eastspring believes in taking a long-term view - investing in durable companies that will outperform over the cycle while looking for opportunities amid short-term disruptions to find good stocks trading on attractive valuations.
"The big issue around coronavirus is how global supply chains will be impacted given how integrated the global economy has become over the past two decades. We should see some support for the markets given that this uncertainty over global growth will prompt central banks to respond with policy measures. The markets are increasingly pricing in Fed cuts in the coming months, and this should be supportive to risky assets at the margin. However, the effectiveness of macro policy is no guarantee."
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell blamed yesterday's US stocks rout for the FTSE 100's plunge on Friday.
"Thursday's freefalling momentum carried over into Friday morning, leading to a gory start for Europe and pushing the market towards its worst week since the financial crisis," he said.
"As the coronavirus inches closer to pandemic levels - Nigeria, Lithuania and New Zealand became the latest nations to report their first cases - and IAG and easyJet only confirming what investors had already suspected with their morning statements, there was nothing to staunch the loss of blood."
Wilson added: "What's been startling is the speed of the decline. Only a week ago we were at record highs - it's taken the S&P 500 just six sessions to go from all-time high to correction. Yesterday's 4.4 per cent decline was the worst in nine years."