Milan stocks hit near 3-week low as virus pandemic fears knock Europe

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Feb 24 (Reuters) – A jump in number of coronavirus cases outside China hit European shares on Monday, as investors feared the outbreak will take a bigger toll on global growth than anticipated.

The pan-European STOXX 600 tumbled 2.5% by 0816 GMT, on pace for its biggest percentage loss since October, with all the major regional indexes down over 2%.

Milan shares tumbled 3.7% to its lowest in nearly three weeks as Italy saw the biggest flare-up of coronavirus cases in Europe, with three people dying of the illness since Friday and more than 150 cases reported.

Among the worst performers on the STOXX 600 were airline stocks, with EasyJet, Ryanair, Air France and Lufthansa down between 7% and 11%. Europe’s travel & leisure index tumbled 4%.

Luxury goods makers, miners, automakers, technology and banking shares all sensitive to global growth sentiment were down more than 3%.

Primark-owner Associated British Foods slid 3% as it warned of potential supply shortages on some lines later in the 2019-20 financial year if delays in factory production in China are prolonged due to coronavirus.

The focus now shifts to the release of Ifo institute’s business climate index for February, expected to inch lower to 95.3 points from 95.9 points in January. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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