Stock markets in turmoil amid oil price dispute, Covid-19 fears

9th March 2020

A dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia on the price of oil and rising fears as coronavirus cases spread have led to turmoil in stock markets.

The FTSE 100, the UK’s top share index, fell more than 8 per cent when it started trading this morning, experiencing its worst day since the financial crisis.

In the US, the stock market plunged by as much as 7 per cent when regular trading began, leading to trading being stopped market-wide, the first time since the height of the financial crisis in December 2008.

In both cases, the situation was attributed to the oil production war between Russia and Saudi Arabia and coronavirus concerns.

In the first minutes of trade, the FTSE 100 index dropped by more than 8 per cent, then standing 6 per cent lower. Analysts spoke of a "Black Monday", describing the market reaction as "utter carnage".

The three major US indices – NBASDAQ Composite, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and S&P 500 Index – suffered drops as equities investors fully realised the consequences of the oil dispute and concerns on the coronavirus effects continued to put pressure on investors as outbreaks grew in New York, California, and Florida, among other states.

The fears about the spread of COVID-19 also indirectly affected the performance of the Malta Stock Exchange equity price index, which posted a one-year low last week.

The MSE equity price index experienced the sharpest drop in three months last week to a fresh one-year low. According to the weekly market report by Rizzo, Farrugia & Co. (Stockbrokers) Ltd, this was due to the fact that Malta International Airport’s share price shed almost 12 per cent – equivalent to a loss of over €108 million in the market cap – to a 13-month low.

The report said the sharp drop was possible due to the fears over the spread of the coronavirus.


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