Global equity markets tumbled and the dollar slid on Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases outside China mounted rapidly, leading California to declare an emergency and HSBC in London to send more than 100 staff home. Italy’s UniCredit also told some staff to go home, while corporations around the world began issuing profit warnings, with Southwest Airlines saying it expected a hit of up to $300 million (€268 million) to its first-quarter operating revenue. In a sign of deep damage to the travel industry, British regional airline Flybe collapsed, making the struggling carrier the industry’s first big casualty of the outbreak. British commercial broadcaster ITV fell 12 per cent after warning that ad revenue for April could fall by about 10 per cent as travel companies deferred campaigns. “I thought 2020 would be the year of the election but it turns out it’s the year of the virus, and it’s going to dominate everything in the global economy this year,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.
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