British Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the country was at a 'tipping point' as virus infections spike

London (AFP) - Europe’s top equity markets tumbled by 3.0 percent Monday, as investors fretted over mounting fears of a second wave of coronavirus and a lack of fresh central bank stimulus, dealers said.

The banking sector was also rocked by the findings of an international journalism investigation that claimed massive sums of allegedly dirty money have flowed for years through some of the world’s largest banking institutions.

In late morning deals, London stocks dived by 3.0 percent after Health Minister Matt Hancock warned Britain’s coronavirus crisis was at a “tipping point”, fueling expectations of more restrictions aimed at curbing Covid-19.

In midday eurozone trade, Frankfurt and Paris had each shed 3.0 percent, Milan dropped by 3.3 percent, and Madrid sank by 3.5 percent after a partial virus lockdown began in the Spanish capital’s densely-populated south.

The European single currency was pushed under $1.18 as dealers sought the traditional safety of the dollar, while oil prices shed almost 2.0 percent on weak energy demand concerns.

- ‘Ice-cold sentiment’ -

“Sentiment was ice cold in the markets… as the FTSE 100 fell sharply below the 6,000 (points) mark,” remarked investment director Russ Mould at online broker AJ Bell.

“The move followed mixed trading in Asia and matched similar-sized drops on other European exchanges as investors weigh concerns around a new wave of coronavirus infections and fears that central banks are not immediately coming to the rescue with a fresh round of stimulus.”

He added: “Travel stocks again faced severe turbulence amid the rising fears over new (government) restrictions – with British Airways owner International Airlines Group the top FTSE 100 faller.”

IAG stock spiralled 14.2 percent lower to stand at 94.82 pence and no-frills rival EasyJet lost 9.3 percent to 489.70 pence.

Most Asian bourses also fell following a disappointing performance Friday on Wall Street, on growing alarm over an uptick in coronavirus infections in Europe and the United States – as well as the lack of movement in Washington on a new stimulus.

Britain’s government, noting hospitalisation rates are doubling every eight days, said fresh restrictions could be put in place across England, with several cities already seeing some measures.

France has seen fatalities creep back up, and a million people in and around Madrid were under new “stay-at-home” orders.

- Banking turmoil -

Shares in major banks dived after Buzzfeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published findings over dirty money allegedly flowing through institutions.

Among the largest fallers were HSBC, which shed 6.1 percent and Deutsche Bank slumping 8.0 percent.

“Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing countries, and hard-earned savings stolen in a Ponzi scheme were all allowed to flow into and out of these financial institutions, despite warnings from the banks’ own employees,” according to the probe.

The investigation points in particular to five major banks – JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon.

- Key figures around 1045 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 3.3 percent at 5,807.36 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 3.0 percent at 12,721.38

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 3.0 percent at 4,827.45

Madrid - IBEX 35: DOWN 3.5 percent at 6,685.20

Milan - FTSE MIB: DOWN 3.3 percent at 18,885.74

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 2.9 percent at 3,189.65

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 2.1 percent at 23,950.69 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,316.94 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

New York - Dow Jones: DOWN 0.9 percent at 27,657.42 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1798 from $1.1840 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2842 from $1.2917

Euro/pound: UP at 91.86 pence from 91.66 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 104.16 yen from 104.57 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.9 percent at $40.33 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.7 percent at $42.43

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