European markets tumble as the coronavirus continues to take its toll; Stoxx 600 down 4.5%

European markets fell sharply on Monday morning as the coronavirus outbreak continues to take its toll on the international community and financial markets.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 4.5% in early trade, with beleaguered travel and leisure stocks plunging 6.9% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid deep into negative territory.

Global financial markets start the week as countries around the world continue to wage battle against the coronavirus, of which there are now over 339,000 confirmed cases worldwide, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University. The virus has now caused over 14,000 deaths. 

Governments around the world have launched massive aid packages to help businesses and workers to get through the crisis but the U.S. is yet to agree an economic stimulus plan.

A fiscal stimulus bill failed a key procedural Senate vote Sunday as Democrats warned the measure did not do enough to help workers and too much to bail out companies. Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had signaled she was not on board with the Republican-version of the stimulus plan, saying: “From my standpoint, we’re apart.” 

U.S. stock futures plunged again on Monday morning as Wall Street awaited action from Washington.

Stocks in Asia Pacific saw sharp drops in afternoon trade as fears over the economic impact of the global coronavirus outbreak continue to weigh heavily on investor sentiment.

In India, the Nifty 50 dropped 11% while the Straits Times Index in Singapore plunged 7.49%.

In Europe Monday, the euro zone releases its latest consumer confidence data for March; there are no major earnings reports.

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