March 18, 2020: European stock index futures fell more than 5% on Wednesday as fears over the relentless global spread of the coronavirus overshadowed sweeping U.S. stimulus measures to support businesses and contain the economic damage from the pandemic.
Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 4.1% at levels last seen in 2012 and fell for the ninth time in 10 days.
German DAX futures also tumbled 4.1%, while French CAC futures and London’s FTSE 100 futures were off 3.9%.
European investor sentiment has been crushed over the past month as some countries in the bloc imposed national lockdown to halt the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Italy’s prime minister on Tuesday declared the virus was causing a “socio-economic tsunami” as European leaders agreed to seal off external borders.
“Right now the predominant concern is that all the shutdowns of just about everything is going to lead to a recession,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
“The sentiment is being dominated by those fears far outweighing everything else.”
Following dramatic monetary policy easing by some of the world’s biggest central banks earlier in the week, U.S. President Donald Trump pressed on Tuesday for a $1 trillion stimulus package, while many other governments looked to fiscal stimulus.
But global stock markets fell again, with S&P 500 e-minis down 3.69% at their daily down trading limit, and even traditional safe-haven assets were under pressure from battered investors looking to unwind their damaged positions.
European airlines and energy firms have been among the biggest decliners in the first quarter as the health crisis halts virtually all travel, crushes oil prices and cripples company finances.
On Wednesday, Zara-owner Inditex became the latest firm to flag a significant blow to its business from the pandemic, saying it would book a provision of 287 million euros ($316 million) against the outbreak’s impact on its spring/summer inventory position.