European shares slump to 2012 lows as Iseq ends down nearly 8%

Shares rally late in day in Dublin but Flutter, AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ryanair among fallers

European shares plummeted to 2012 lows on Monday as the coronavirus pandemic raged through Europe, with dramatic monetary easing by global central banks failing to reassure investors about its growing economic damage.


The Iseq index opened sharply lower, down 11.3 per cent by 9am with almost all stocks in the red. The day didn’t get much better despite a late rally in some shares. The index closed down 7.9 per cent at 4740.39.

Ryanair, which said it could cut capacity by up to 80 per cent, was one of those to stage a late recovery. At one stage it was down 23 per cent but ended down 11 per cent, outperforming most of its rivals.

Airline stocks were in retreat globally as were banks, with AIB and Bank of Ireland down 11.9 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively.


Betting giant Flutter closed down 12.9 per cent as it warned Covid-19 disruption could cost it £110 million.

Given how badly stocks performed, Kerry Group did well to end the day just 4 per cent lower. Kingspan also held its own, down 2.5 per cent on the day. Glanbia did even better, ending up 1.3 per cent, having risen by as much as 4 per cent earlier.


UK shares mirrored steep declines in global stock markets on Monday with London’s blue-chip Ftse 100 index dropping 7.5 per cent to its lowest since October 2011.

Britain's airline stocks took the biggest hit. IAG, the owner of Aer Lingus and British Airways, slid 24 per cent after saying it would cut its flying capacity by at least 75 per cent in April and May. Shares of EasyJet and TUI slumped 26 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

Shares in major lenders including Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group fell 10-14 per cent. Among other virus casualties, luxury carmaker Aston Martin tumbled 30.5 per cent to an all-time low. Retail chain Primark's owner, Associated British Foods, was down 5 per cent after it said it had shut 20 per cent of its store space and would not provide a full-year forecast due to the impact of the pandemic.

Irish-founded sandwich maker Greencore was down 30 per cent at one point before rallying to close down 20 per cent. Shares in the company are down 59 per cent since the mass coronavirus sell-off began on February 20th.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 4.9 per cent, with markets in France and Spain leading losses as the two countries joined Italy in enforcing a national lockdown. Airlines and holiday operators were among the biggest decliners on the Stoxx 600 as the pandemic brought global travel to a standstill.

The benchmark European index has now lost more than a third of its value since hitting a record high in mid-February.

The wider travel and leisure index plunged more than 10 per cent. The Euro Stoxx 50 volatility index, popularly termed the European “fear gauge”, jumped to a record high of 95.02.


US stock indexes plunged about 7 per cent in early trading on Monday, as the Federal Reserve’s drastic interest rate cut to near zero stoked fears of a coronavirus-driven recession.

Trading on Wall Street’s three main stock indexes was halted for 15 minutes shortly after the open, the third such pause in six days, as the S&P 500 index plunged 8 per cent, triggering an automatic cut-out.

The benchmark index slid as much as 11.4 per cent, shedding about $2 trillion in market value, before bargain hunting helped the indexes claw back some losses.

Energy stocks tracked a near 1 per cent slump in oil prices, while technology stocks shed 7.6 per cent. Apple, Microsoft and Facebook fell more than 7 per cent each and were the biggest drags on the S&P 500.

Additional reporting: Reuters

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist