European shares drop on coronavirus cases and weak euro-zone data

Markets close: Dublin closes lower with Bank of Ireland and AIB among the biggest losers

European shares gave up earlier gains to end firmly in negative territory on Friday after Britain and Italy confirmed their first coronavirus cases, and with a set of disappointing euro-zone indicators also weighing on sentiment.


As with other markets, the Iseq was weaker on Friday, closing 1 per cent lower with little in the way of company news to motivate investors.

Bank of Ireland was down 4.2 per cent with AIB rebounding at the close to end 2 per cent lower. Permanent TSB was another faller, down 3 per cent.

Negative sentiment towards Dalata continued with the hotel group closing down 1.6 per cent.


Elsewhere, Ryanair, which is due to announce its third-quarter results on Monday was unchanged.

Other movers include Smurfit Kappa, down 2.6 per cent, Flutter, which was 1.6 per cent lower and Iseq heavyweight CRH, which lost 1. 3 per cent.


London's FTSE 100 tumbled to a seven-week low on Friday as the first cases of coronavirus in Britain fanned concerns over the economic impact to the country, on its last day as a member of the European Union. The main index gave up 1.3 per cent, capping off its worst weekly performance in over a year, while the FTSE 250 handed back earlier gains to close 0.7 per cent lower.

Aston Martin soared 24 per cent on its best ever day after Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll said he would take a stake in the company.

French Connection, the owner of Great Plains and YMC brands, tanked 31 per cent – its steepest one-day drop on record – after it dropped plans to sell itself and said it would instead focus on a turnaround.

M&C Saatchi slid 10 per cent as Britain's financial watchdog began a probe after the advertising agency revealed an accounting scandal last year, while fashion retailer Laura Ashley slumped 8 per cent after its top boss stepped down.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 1.1 per cent lower, taking losses this week to 3 per cent for its worst week in almost six months. On the month, it lost 1.2 per cent – its worst January since 2016.

Miners were the biggest losers, down 1.6 per cent, on worries that China and its gigantic market for raw materials will come to a standstill if the coronavirus epidemic worsens. Travel and leisure stocks also extended losses as more airlines suspended flights to China. Concerns about the euro-zone economy also pushed stocks downwards.

Among earnings updates, Spanish lender Banco Sabadell tumbled almost 14 per cent after the lender swung to a loss in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, shares of Signify, the world's largest maker of lights, rallied 7 per cent after reporting a higher quarterly core profit. French healthcare company Novacyt shot up 81 per cent after saying it had launched a new molecular test for the coronavirus.

Wall Street

Wall Street’s main averages tumbled more than 1 per cent on Friday, as mixed corporate earnings added to worries over the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on global growth.

Amazon. com was among a few bright spots, surging 9 per cent on better-than-expected results for the holiday-quarter that pushed it back into the $1 trillion market capitalisation club.

Oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron dropped about 3 per cent after disappointing results.

Visa fell 3.7 per cent as it fell short of analysts’ estimates for first-quarter revenue and warned of incentives hitting 2020 results. International Business Machines (IBM) gained 4 per cent after it named a new chief executive. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist