March 12, 2020 / 8:24 AM / 23 days ago

European shares sink again as Trump imposes travel ban

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

(Reuters) - European shares plummeted to their lowest in almost four years on Thursday as investors were rattled by dramatic travel restrictions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump in an attempt to halt the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Trump on Wednesday suspended travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days, responding to mounting pressure to take action against the outbreak, which the World Health Organisation now classifies as a pandemic.

The benchmark STOXX 600 index fell 4.9%, with the sub-index of travel and leisure stocks .SXTP shedding 8.6% to hit its lowest in more than six years.

Joining a growing list of corporate casualties of the outbreak, WH Smith (SMWH.L) forecast a 40 million pound hit to annual profit, while airport retailer Dufry (DUFN.S) said it would cut jobs after posting a 7.3% slump in organic sales.

Their shares fell 17% and 16.8%, respectively.

A third high profile corporate victim of the outbreak, cinema operator Cineworld (CINE.L), sank another 20% after it said that a worst case scenario for the virus outbreak could cast doubt on its ability to continue as a going concern.

Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

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