February 28, 2020 / 8:41 AM / a month ago

Global corporate earnings to stagnate at best in 2020 - Citigroup analysts

FILE PHOTO: The Canary Wharf financial district is seen at dusk in London, Britain, November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

(Reuters) - Major global companies will see no growth in earnings in 2020, analysts from U.S. bank Citigroup have predicted, the latest sign of a reining in of expectations for commercial performance this year as the coronavirus continues to spread.

The note from the bank, predicting that global corporate earnings per share would be flat and might even fall this year, followed a similar downgrading of expectations by Goldman Sachs for U.S. companies on Thursday.

The fast-spreading virus has sparked fears of a global recession and an end to a decade-long bull run for stock markets. Most major markets on Friday were heading for their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.

“Maybe even flat EPS is too optimistic,” Citigroup analyst Robert Buckland said in a note published late on Thursday.

“If the virus slows global economic growth to 2% in 2020, our models suggest global EPS could contract around 10%,” he added.

Another U.S. peer, Bank of America, on Thursday cut its world growth forecast to 2.8%, the lowest since 2009.

Citigroup cut its end of year target for the MSCI all country world stocks index .MIWD00000PUS to 660 points, down from a previous 690. The index has lost 9.4% so far this week to trade at 516 points on Friday.

Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

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