European Shares Plunge As Shutdown Spreads Across Europe

European stocks succumbed to heavy selling pressure on Monday, with shares of travel and leisure companies pacing the decliners, after the World Health Organization said Europe has become new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of fatalities in Italy shoot up by 368 to 1,809 — more than half of all the fatal cases recorded outside China.

Germany is planning partial border closures, while the French government is considering putting Paris into full lockdown.

Austria banned gatherings of more than five people. The Netherlands ordered its weed-selling coffee shops to shut.

Spain has imposed a 15-day nationwide lockdown, banning its 46 million citizens from all-non-essential movement.

The U.K. government is facing growing calls to take more drastic measures as thirty-five people died after testing positive for coronavirus in the country.

Markets were also reacting to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s surprise move to cut interest rates to nearly zero Sunday and the release of weak economic data from China.

The pan European Stoxx 600 plunged 7.4 percent to 277.02 after rising 1.4 percent on Friday. The German DAX plummeted 7.1 percent, France’s CAC 40 index slumped 8.3 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was down 6.5 percent.

Scandinavian Airlines System shares plunged 9 percent. The airline holding company said it would temporarily lay off up to 10,000 employees or 90 percent of its workforce amid a drop in demand due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Electrolux lost 12 percent. The Swedish home appliance manufacturer anticipates a considerable risk of a material financial impact during the first half of 2020 due to coronavirus outbreak. The company said its previously provided outlook is no longer valid.

Retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB lost 8.4 percent after warning of coronavirus impact.

TUI Group shares plummeted 31 percent. The Anglo-German multinational travel and tourism company has decided to suspend the vast majority of all travel operations until further notice, including package travel, cruises and hotel operations.

Air France-KLM shares slumped 17 percent. The Group, comprising Air France, KLM and Transavia, announced its plan to reduce capacity significantly over the next few days as demand and sales are very weak due to the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

LVMH gave up nearly 8 percent. The luxury goods giant said it would start making hand sanitizer for French hospitals for free.

Shares of Future plc. plunged 13 percent after the platform for specialist media announced the findings by the Competition and Markets Authority on the acquisition of TI Media.

Shares of Countrywide plc plummeted 42 percent. LSL Property Services plc announced that it no longer intends to make an offer for Countrywide. LSL Property shares were down more than 13 percent.

Carnival Corp shares tumbled 11.5 percent. The leisure travel company announced a voluntary month-long stoppage of four additional North American cruise line brands, citing the global spread of COVID-19.

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