By Sruthi Shankar
(Reuters) – European shares fell to a near four-month low on Wednesday, as the fast-spreading coronavirus deepened fears about its impact on global growth with marquee companies sounding the alarm on earnings.
The main European equity benchmark STOXX 600 <.STOXX> tumbled 2.6%, marking its first five-day losing streak since July.
Travel stocks, financial services, chemical and technology stocks were among the worst hit, falling between 3% and 4%.
The losses followed a grim session for Asia and Wall Street overnight after U.S. health officials warned Americans should prepare for possible community spread of the virus that has now hit Spain and dozens of countries from South Korea to Italy.
The STOXX 600 is trading 9.4% below the record highs hit just last week, while the past four trading sessions has wiped out about $3 trillion in value of world stocks.
British spirits maker Diageo
Rivals Remy Cointreau SA
“This is part of the ongoing reassessment of how bad the economic impact could get if the virus were to spread to more countries,” said Simona Gambarini, markets economist at Capital Economics in London.
“Longer the shutdown lasts, then more likely that some of that production might never come back because companies might go bankrupt and people are also starting to take unpaid leaves.”
Food group Danone
Global miner Rio Tinto
Latest data from Refinitiv shows European companies are expected to report a 1.2% fall in profits in the fourth quarter, a bigger drop than previously expected, which would keep them stuck in a year-long earnings recession.
The biggest decliner on the STOXX 600 was Danish services company ISS
Pressuring Norwegian shares <.OSEAX> was a 4% fall in fish farmer Salmar
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sriraj Kalluvila)