The FTSE 100 edged down this morning as continued concern over the coronavirus outbreak knocked investor confidence around the world.
London’s blue-chip index fell 0.2 per cent in early trading, landing at 7450p, as the UK declared the virus a serious and imminent threat to public health.
The outbreak has now killed 908 people around the world, with the vast majority of the fatalities concentrated in China.
The disease has now killed more people than 2003’s SARS outbreak.
Although losses are mild, said Neil Wilson, chief markets analyst at markets.com, “what’s still unknown is the real economic damage this has wrought”.
The DAX and the CAC 40 fell a similar amount to the FTSE this morning, down 0.2 and 0.3 per cent respectively .
Asian stocks saw a more dramatic impact as China returned to work after its extended lunar New Year holiday, with the Nikkei and the Hang Seng both down about 0.6 per cent.
The morning’s negative sentiment has stalled Friday’s brief rally, as the World Health Organization warned that “we could only be seeing the tip of the iceberg” with regards to the virus.
There are now over 40,000 confirmed cases of the illness in China, with 330 worldwide, four of which are in the UK.
The two people who have died from the disease outside China were in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Oil prices also continued to slide, with West Texas Intermediate falling below the $50 mark this morning.
A significant drop in Chinese oil demand means that oil has entered a bear market after shedding over 20 per cent of its value.
Traders are awaiting a decision by producer group Opec as to whether it will impose further production curbs after its technical committee met last week.
The group is reportedly waiting on Russia to make a decision on the 600,000 barrel per day cut it has recommended.