Coronavirus: FTSE stages rally after day of global market carnage

Global stock markets are attempting a fightback after the biggest one day losses seen on the London’s FTSE 100 since the 1987 crash.

The leading UK index surged more than 6% on the open before settling back to around 3.5% as investors started to respond to measures being taken by governments and central banks to tackle the coronavirus.

It followed the carnage of the previous day that saw more than £160bn wiped off the value of blue chip stocks as a result of the financial turmoil caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the virus.

The London Stock Exchange has also introduced a temporary ban on short-selling of some shares at the request of market watchdogs in Spain and Italy.

Meanwhile, Saga has suspended its cruise operations until 1 May in the face of the mounting crisis, at an estimated cost to the company of up to to £15m.

The travel and insurance specialist took the decision following updated government guidance advising people aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health conditions against going on cruises.

The company, which predominantly caters for over-50s, said its staff would be in contact with all customers who were due to travel in the next six weeks to refunds or future credit.

“The health and safety of customers and colleagues is our number one priority,” Saga said.

“We have, therefore, made the decision to temporarily suspend operations of our cruises until 1 May 2020.”

The company, which operates ocean and river cruises, said it would seek additional cost savings and cut discretionary spending to offset the impact of the suspension.

Saga had warned earlier this month that it was seeing a higher level of near-term cancellations for its cruises and
tours due to the epidemic.

The announcement follows the decision by Carnival-owned Princess Cruises, which had two ships affected by the virus, to cancel all trips for its 18 vessels for the next two months.

Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson announced the inaugural season of his new Virgin Voyages cruise line was also being postponed due to the outbreak.

In response to the growing outbreak, easyJet has announced it will waive flight change fees, for customers wanting to change their travel plans.

The firm said: “Due to the ongoing travel restrictions being implemented as a result of COVID-19, we understand the uncertainty many customers may be facing and so any easyJet customers who wish to change their travel plans can now transfer their flights to alternative dates and/or an alternative destination without a change fee.

“This applies to both existing and new bookings until further notice.”

Elsewhere, Morrisons has become the first major UK supermarket to agree to pay all small suppliers immediately to ensure businesses do not collapse due to coronavirus.

Bosses at the grocer said it would also temporarily change the way it classifies “small suppliers” to any firm with an annual turnover of under £1m, compared with £100,000 previously.

Chief executive David Potts said: “We are Britain’s biggest single food-maker and we want to be there for the smaller food-makers, farmers and businesses that supply Morrisons.

“We’re a British family business and we will be doing our best to support them through this challenging period.”

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