Investors wiped more than 5 billion euros off the value of three leading Irish companies as news of the latest outbreak of Covid sparked panic in the stock market.
Stocks around the world fell on Friday after countries moved to impose new travel restrictions to stem the spread of a new strain of the Covid virus in South Africa that is feared to spread more easily than current variables.
The Iseq Index of the Irish Stock Exchange, which tracks all shares traded in the Dublin market, fell 4.48 percent to close at 7,834.61 on Friday.
Ryanair Holdings lost more than 2 billion euros in value as investors sold shares in travel and leisure companies, which are seen as most at risk if countries bring back lockdowns or restrictions.
Shares in Europe’s largest airline fell more than 12 per cent to trade at €14.035 as Dublin closed.
Ryanair’s price has already recovered to nearly €16 on Thursday after losing ground earlier in the week when tension from renewed travel restrictions hit markets for the first time.
Building materials giant CRH, another Irish market strike, saw its value drop by 1.5 billion euros, as the sell-off sent its stock down 4 per cent to 43.70 euros.
Paddy Power’s owner, Flutter Entertainment, whose global sports betting business could suffer if these events were hit by shutdowns, has wiped about 1.6 billion euros from its total value. Its stock fell 7 percent in Dublin to 120.15 euros.
In London, shares in the international airline group that owns Aer Lingus fell 14.6 per cent to 131.76 pence.
Back in Dublin, Dalata Hotel Group, owner of the Clayton and Maldron chains, fell 7.88 percent to 3.39 euros.
AIB fell 8.64 percent to close at 1.9185 euros, while the Bank of Ireland lost 7.17 percent to 4.716 euros.
Few stocks escaped defeat. Homebuilders Cairn Homes and Glenveagh Properties lost out, as did packaging giant Smurfit, office developer Hibernia Reit and Irish owner Residential Properties.
European and American stock markets
European stock markets fell 3 percent to 5 percent. On Wall Street, which closed early this Thanksgiving weekend, the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 2.3 percent while the Nasdaq, home to many tech companies, fell 2.2 percent.
Scientists have not yet decided whether the latest Covid-19 strain actually transmits faster than others or if it can evade vaccines or immunity more easily.
However, stock market watchers have been pointing to a months-long rally in the stock’s value.
Kiran Ganesh, strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management, agreed that it was too early to judge the impact of the South African dynasty.
« Where the market is getting so oversold is a product of, ‘Yeah, that’s bad news,’ but also the fact that we’ve had a very strong performance with relatively low volatility for a while, » he explained.
Meanwhile, oil prices suffered their biggest one-day drops ever, crashing more than 11 percent as news of the new virus strain raised fears that the renewed shutdown would hurt global demand. The collapse, the seventh largest for Brent crude, the global oil standard, may prompt OPEC + to reconsider its policy when it meets next week, as the group is increasingly inclined towards halting its production increases temporarily.
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