Stock markets have fallen sharply around the world after Saudi Arabia launched an aggressive oil price war that caused oil prices to fall by almost a third.
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 index plunged by over 8% at the open, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended 7.3% lower on Monday, the index’s biggest plunge since October 2008. Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 5.1% to its lowest close in more than a year.
The falls point to a rocky start to markets in the U.S. S&P 500 futures fell as much as 5%, while Dow futures dropped about 4.7% ahead of the markets opening in New York.
U.K. media stocks have been caught up in the falls, including broadcaster ITV which saw its share price plunge over 8% to its lowest price in more than five years. Advertising giant WPP was down over 7.5%.
The selling began after Saudi Arabia shocked oil markets by launching a price war against Russia, trying to retake market share after Russia refused to go along with OPEC’s efforts to rescue the coronavirus-battered oil market by cutting production. U.S. oil prices fell by 27% overnight.
Shares in London-listed oil producers tumbled this morning. Majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell were down 20% and 22% shortly after the open.
The ongoing impact of coronavirus and its effect on the economy has only added to the volatile market conditions. Italy placed nearly 16 million people under lockdown over the weekend amid a growing Europe-wide outbreak.
Asian investors also reacted to a slump in Chinese export figures and the shrinking of the Japanese economy. In China, the benchmark Shanghai composite index fell more than 2% while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 3.5%.