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Stockmarkets hit by swine flu outbreak

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by Kay Mitchell
”Stockmarkets

Stockmarkets have been hit today by the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico sending airline and travel stocks plummeting while pharmaceutical companies including GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Shire and Smith & Nephew have soared.

In London, the FTSE 100 index was down 60 points in early trading with the biggest losers including TUI, British Airways and Thomas Cook.

Germany’s Dax lost 1.6%, while in Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan lost almost 3%. Investors in Asia are particularly nervous since the outbreak of bird flu four years ago had a major impact on the tourism region.

Investors are worried that the swine flu may result in people cancelling trips overseas, or even travel restrictions.

The outbreak of swine flu in Mexico has already killed over 100 people and left a further 400 in hospitals throughout the country.

Following the news, the dollar fell to a record low against the yen and has had a negative impact on oil prices.

However, shares in drug companies and medical glovemakers surged after they said they could supply millions of doses of medicine and were ready to work on a vaccine against the disease.

So far, the lives claimed have been limited to Mexico but swine flu is spreading with almost 30 cases in the United States and Canada.

According to the World Health Organisation, the flu is a “public health emergency of international concern”, warning that it could trigger a pandemic, or global outbreak.

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News posted: April 27, 2009

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