UK and European markets opened sharply lower as the coronavirus
outbreak continues to take its toll on the international community and
Stocks in Asia Pacific saw
sharp drops as fears over the economic impact of the global
coronavirus outbreak continue to weigh heavily on investor sentiment.
The U.S. dollar rose
against sterling toward its strongest since at least 1985.
Oil prices fell as
governments escalated lockdowns to curb the spread of the global coronavirus
outbreak that has slashed the demand outlook for oil and threatened a global
Gold prices fell as
investors stockpiled cash.
In corporate news, Royal
Dutch Shell said it was cutting capital expenditure,
underlying operating costs and postponing the next phase of its share buyback
to conserve cash in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Primark's decision to close all its stores will cost £650m a month in lost
sales, parent company Associated
British Foods said. ABF said it was cutting costs at Primark
and that these measures together with government support should allow it to
recover about half of operating costs.
Transport operator Stagecoach
issued a profit warning, saying that it was unlikely to pay any further
dividends as the coronavirus pandemic hit passenger numbers.
This report has been prepared for private circulation. The inclusion of securities within this report does not necessarily imply their suitability for individual portfolios or situations in respect of which further advice should be sought. Information contained in this report has been compiled from sources believed to be reliable but is not warranted to be accurate or complete.