Yorkshire's top firms lose hundreds of millions after stock market rout

Hundreds of millions of pounds were wiped off the value of Yorkshire's leading PLCs after an all-out oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia sent stock markets across the world plunging.
"This will be remembered as Black Monday.""This will be remembered as Black Monday."
"This will be remembered as Black Monday."

The FTSE 100 leading index of London-listed businesses collapsed by more than 8 per cent in early trading, wiping off more than 500 points and hitting levels not seen since the Brexit referendum result in 2016, before recovering slightly to close down 7.7 per cent.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "This will be remembered as Black Monday. If you thought it couldn't get any worse than the last fortnight, think again. The blood really is running in the streets, it's utter carnage out there."

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All three Yorkshire members of the leading FTSE 100 index suffered multi-million pound losses.

Yorkshire's biggest PLC, York-based housebuilder Persimmon, saw £666m wiped off the value of its shares after they closed down 7.8 per cent.

Snaith-based chemicals firm Croda International saw its value fall £139m after its shares closed down 2.4 per cent and Bradford-based grocer Morrisons lost £110m when its shares ended the day down 2.5 per cent.

More than £140bn was wiped off the value of UK companies in early trading and the oil price saw its fastest single day fall since the first Gulf War.

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Mr Wilson said: "The oil price shock has totally unnerved investors while Italy's decision to quarantine 16 million citizens in the north of the country has left markets feeling like the coronavirus outbreak is out of control - where next? The UK is preparing for the worst."

Traders, who are already fearful of an economic slowdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, sold shares after the Saudis said they would ramp up production and cut prices.

Overnight, a barrel of Brent Crude oil fell 30 per cent. Shares in Royal Dutch Shell led the collapse, with the price down 22 per cent within 30 minutes of markets opening. BP also fell 20 per cent.

Smaller companies were hit even harder - Premier Oil and Tullow Oil both lost 55 per cent and 37 per cent of their value respectively.

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Around 15 of the top 100 companies lost more than 10 per cent of their value within the opening 30 minutes of trading.

The move comes as the Saudis said they would raise production, even if it means taking a hit, as it battles with Russia over how much oil should be produced during the coronavirus outbreak.

There had been demand for oil supplies to be cut, to help shore up the price. However, Russia indicated it would be willing to "turn on the taps", leading to the Kingdom to fight back with a promise of cheaper oil.

The number of people infected with the coronavirus topped 107,000 across the world as the outbreak reached more countries and caused more economic carnage.

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Ayush Ansal, chief investment officer at Crimson Black Capital, said: “The FTSE’s collapse on Monday morning shows the markets have passed from panic mode into pure hysteria.

“Markets were at breaking point before Saudi Arabia’s decision to launch an oil price war, but this latest development has taken them beyond that.

“Any positive news around the coronavirus is being ignored outright, while negative developments are being catastrophised.

“Markets will always be irrational but Monday morning saw the end of reason.”

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