Shares prices in FTSE 100 in London opened down sharply as fears of recession gripped markets worldwide.
By Alistair Osborne and Edmund Conway
The Telegraph (UK)
With Japanese shares suffering their biggest loss in two decades, investors were in no mood to hold stocks and within minutes of the start the FTSE 100 index of leading shares fell 236 points – or 5.8pc – to 3840.
Miners, travel companies and retailers were among the biggest fallers as markets focussed on an economic slowdown. TUI Travel slid 18.8pc, platinum miner Lonmin 17pc and plumbing group Wolseley 13pc.
Markets have been spooked the effect of a slowdown on trade as America reported worse-than-expected US retail sales, unemployment rocketed in Britain and increasing evidence of falling demand from China’s once booming economy.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index plunged 11.41pc to close at 8458, as growing fears of a global recession hammered world markets.
South Korea, whose export-driven economy is in crisis, with the won in freefall and Standard & Poor’s saying it might cut credit ratings for the country’s leading banks, saw the Kospi index fall 9.4pc in the afternoon, heading for its worst day ever.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 7.6pc, with mainland Chinese firms exposed to falling commodity prices worst hit. Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 fell 6.7pc and New Zealand’s NZX-50 4.8pc to 2,765, its lowest level since September 2004.
Sentiment is grim. “Don’t stand in front of the freight train,” said Sonray Capital Markets chief economist Clifford Bennett in Tokyo. “This is clearly a panic with further to go. The equity market game has fundamentally changed.”