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Business briefing: Worst crash for 33 years as FTSE-100 loses £160bn

Tense: Traders on the floor in New York PICTURE: EPA

STOCK markets continued to crash yesterday with the FTSE-100 suffering its second worst day ever.

More than £160billion was wiped off the value of leading firms as the index closed down 10.87 per cent — its biggest drop since Black Monday in October 1987.

The 639-point fall to 5,237 took it to its lowest level since 2011.

Analysts blamed a combination of coronavirus, the shock from Donald Trump’s European travel ban and falling oil prices amid a price war.

The New York Stock Exchange briefly suspended for the second time this week and the Stoxx Europe 600 index, which measures major stocks in the region, fell 11.5 per cent — its worst day on record.

David Madden, of CMC Markets, said: ‘It has been yet another horrendous day in the markets as fears surrounding the health crisis continue to rise.’ Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell added: ‘It is hard to keep coming up with new metaphors for the scale of disaster facing the global markets.’

Germany’s DAX fell 12.2 per cent, more than after 9/11, France’s CAC 40 by 12.3 and Italy’s FTSE MIB by 16.9.

Travel firms were among the worst-affected. British Airways owner IAG fell ten per cent while cruise operator Carnival and Tui were both down 17 per cent.

Insurance firm Prudential and asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen were also both down 16 per cent.

Oil giant Shell halves its boss’s pay to £8.7million

SHELL halved its chief executive’s pay last year after seven people died while working for the company and revenue contracted.

The oil giant said Ben van Beurden was paid £8.7million in 2019, a 51 per cent drop on the year before. It was still 87 times more than the average Shell employee in the UK.

Mr van Beurden’s pay includes a base salary of £1.4million. His £700,000 bonus was nearly three quarters lower than in 2018.

He also received £6.4million in a long-term incentive plan, around half 2018’s levels.

Mr van Beurden took over in 2014, when oil prices hit more than $100 a barrel. However, a year later they fell to less than $30.

Although the price later recovered, Mr van Beurden and his peers at BP, Exxon and the other big oil companies are now dealing with a rapidly plunging oil price.

The cost of a barrel of Brent crude hit as low as $32.51 yesterday, a drop of 9.9 per cent amid a global financial panic.

In 2018, the Dutchman took home an £18million pay package — more than double the year before — as high oil prices boosted the business.

Greggs putting pasty behind it in Cornwall

GREGGS is set to reignite pasty wars in Cornwall with plans to open a second outlet in the county — after the first closed through lack of trade.

The high-street chain’s plan to open in the hamlet of Victoria, by the A30, has been met with ridicule. It follows a branch in Saltash last year that was forced to close after nine months when the bakery was branded ‘junk’ by pasty-loving Cornish locals.

Greggs said it would ‘continue to look for new opportunity sites across south-west England’. But local Gary Hall said: ‘Never been in one, would rather support the independent bakeries.’

BUSINESS BITES

■ THE gender pay gap ranges from 15 per cent to 56 per cent across the UK, with the biggest differences in Aberdeen and Norwich. Jobs site Adzuna found wage discrimination has grown in parts of the country.

■ BETWAY has been fined a record £11.6billion for failures to stop money-laundering and check high rollers can afford big losses. One client blew £4million in four years, the Gambling Commission said.

■ MOSS BROS is to be sold to Crew Clothing’s owner in a deal worth £22.6million. The agreement with Brigadier Acquisition Co comes after the menswear retailer posted widening losses amid tough trading.

■ INVESTORS in a fund formerly run by Neil Woodford will get a new payout. Link Fund Solutions has buyers for £142million of assets — a fifth of what is left in the suspended fund. It brings the total paid back to £2.3billion.

■ THE number of over-50s on zero-hours contracts has grown by over half in five years. Some 288,000 older workers are now on the casual contracts — with 73,662 aged over 65, career site Rest Less found.