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Coronavirus panic and oil price fall leads to stock markets drop

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Stock markets around the world have plunged as panic over the spread of coronavirus was compounded by the steepest fall in oil prices for nearly 30 years.   (stock photo)

Stock markets around the world have plunged as panic over the spread of coronavirus was compounded by the steepest fall in oil prices for nearly 30 years. (stock photo)

Stock markets around the world have plunged as panic over the spread of coronavirus was compounded by the steepest fall in oil prices for nearly 30 years. (stock photo)

Stock markets around the world have plunged as panic over the spread of coronavirus was compounded by the steepest fall in oil prices for nearly 30 years.

The FTSE 100 of the UK's biggest companies had its most severe one-day fall since the worst of the global recession in 2008.

That was in response to the worst fall in the price of oil since the Gulf War broke out in 1991, after a move by Saudi Arabia to cut the price of a barrel of oil. Demand for oil is falling as countries and businesses around the world reduce travel.

And falling travel bookings also led to a drop in the share price of Irish company Dalata Hotel Group, which operates four hotels in Northern Ireland. It warned of a fall in bookings and growing cancellations after the virus spread to Italy, the UK and Ireland.

Dalata, which is Ireland's biggest hotel company, said that it had seen "a significant reduction in bookings and a significant increase in cancellations following the spread of Covid-19 to Europe, in particular the spread of the virus to Northern Italy and from there to the UK and Ireland".

The company owns Belfast's Clayton Hotel, as well as Maldron hotels in Belfast city centre, Londonderry and at Belfast International Airport.

Richard Schwartz, a chartered financial planner with North Financial in Belfast, said stock markets and pension funds with an equity exposure had seen a fall in fund values in recent weeks due to the impact of coronavirus.

"For those drawing pension income, it may be time to assess the income they are taking, or try to identify alternative sources of income as the cost of taking money is higher when your funds are valued lower," he said.

And Neil Gibson, chief economist of business advisers EY, said it was not clear how long the effects of coronavirus would linger: "Sadly, a number of firms running on tight margins and in vulnerable sectors may not survive at all. The tourist and entertainment industries, for example, cannot easily catch up a lost season."

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