Fear infected the stock market on Monday as worries over the impact of the coronavirus saw investors sell up and send the FTSE 100 to a six-week low.
The blue-chip index took a serious battering, falling 173.93 points, down 2.29%, to 7412.05 with just four of the 100 listed companies closing the day up.
Travel, luxury and energy stocks suffered the most, with investors concerned travel to China could be reduced, and rich tourists from the Asian super-state may avoid unnecessary trips.
Among the travel businesses to suffer were British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG), down 34p to 587p; easyJet down 73p to 1,409.5p; cruise group Carnival down 171p to 3,257p; and InterContinental Hotels down 236p at 4,570p.
There was similar sentiment in Europe with the German Dax 30 down 2.75% and in France, the first country on the continent to confirm a case of the virus, the Cac 40 lost 2.68%.
Brent Crude also dropped 2.87% to 58.92 dollars a barrel by the stock market close.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: “Prior to the outbreak, this week would have been notable for Mark Carney’s final meeting as Bank of England governor, an outing that could see the MPC cut interest rates, alongside the UK’s long-trailed withdrawal from the EU.
“Instead it looks like those major macro events may end up as background noise to the market-tanking concerns surrounding the virus, and the potential impact it will have on the Chinese, and therefore global, economy.”
In company news it was a quiet day for announcements, with only a handful of businesses reporting results.
Lender Amigo, which has been under regulatory scrutiny for its guarantor loans, said it has put itself up for sale and launched a strategic review. Shares have already collapsed 75% since June and on Monday they closed down 19.4p, off 28.5%, at 48.6p.
The London-listed oil company allegedly tricked into thinking it had won major investment from Qatar said it has speeded up production at its Nigerian oil field.
With investors still reeling from the scam, in which Lekoil handed over 600,000 dollars (£460,000) believing it would lead to a 184 million dollar investment, shares closed the day down 0.1p at 2.9p.
Petra Diamonds’ shares closed the day down 1.33p, or 12.4%, at 9.37p following the company’s disclosure that first-half revenues fell by 6%.
Bosses blamed weak demand for diamonds from China, amid trade tensions with the US, and the impact from political unrest in Hong Kong.
Finally, Spire Healthcare said any payouts for alleged unnecessary operations by one of its former doctors would be picked up by the surgeon and his insurers, rather than the company. Shares closed down 2p at 132p.
The four FTSE 100 risers were NMC Health up 12.5p at 1,360p; BT Group up 0.92p at 171.92p; Polymetal up 3p at 1,269p and Flutter up 8p at 8,896p.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were IAG down 34p at 587p; Prudential down 71.5p at 1,346p; Rio Tinto down 222.5p at 4,216p; Carnival down 171p at 3,257p and easyJet down 73p at 1,409.5p.