March 16, 2020 / 8:26 AM / 14 days ago

UK shares slide as central bank moves fail to quell virus fears

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* FTSE 100 down 5.3%, FTSE 250 down 6.8%

March 16 (Reuters) - UK shares mirrored steep declines in global stock markets on Monday, as coordinated stimulus actions by central banks across the world failed to calm panic-stricken investors who feared deeper economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index dropped 5.3% to its lowest since October 2011, adding to a 17% drop last week.

Airline stocks took the biggest hit as Britain’s government looked set to discuss how to help the sector after major airlines including Virgin Atlantic and easyJet said the state would need to step in to prevent a collapse.

ICAG, the owner of British Airways, slid 20% after saying it would cut its flying capacity by at least 75% in April and May. Share of EasyJet and TUI AG slumped 21% and 24%, respectively.

In a bid to improve liquidity and ease strains in global funding markets, the U.S Federal Reserve slashed its interest rates to near zero on Sunday, while its peers in New Zealand, Australia and Japan unveiled their own measures.

Shares in major lenders including Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and LLoyds Banking Group fell between 4.6% and 9%.

The moves, however, gave little impetus for investors as things worsened over the weekend, with holiday destinations such as Spain declaring a state of emergency and the Trump administration adding Britain and Ireland to its list of countries facing travel curbs. (Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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