- Markets will be digesting comments from the U.S. on Tuesday after President Donald Trump prepared Americans for a surge in coronavirus cases, saying the U.S. will face a "very, very painful two weeks."
European markets traded lower Wednesday as global market sentiment continues to take a pummeling amid the coronavirus outbreak
The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 3.4% in early deals, with banks dropping 5% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.
Markets are digesting comments from the U.S. on Tuesday after President Donald Trump prepared Americans for a surge in coronavirus cases, saying the U.S. will face a "very, very painful two weeks."
"This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be a very bad two, and maybe three weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we've never seen before," Trump said at a White House press conference Tuesday.
White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S. with coronavirus fatalities peaking over the next two weeks.
Meanwhile in Asia, stocks also fell on Wednesday afternoon despite a private survey showed Chinese manufacturing activity expanding slightly in March. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index (PMI) for March came in at 50.1, above expectations of a reading of 45.5 by analysts in a Reuters poll.
Mainland Chinese stocks shed earlier gains to edge just below the flatline, while Japan's Nikkei 225 led losses among the region's major markets to fall 4.5% by Wednesday's close.
Hong Kong-listed shares of HSBC and Standard Chartered plunged 9.06% and 6.83%, respectively, after both British lenders canceled dividend payments at the request of the U.K. financial regulator in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
In terms of individual share price action in Europe, Swiss retailer Dufry, French corporate bank Natixis and Finnish tire manufacturer Nokian Renkaat all fell by more than 10% in early trade.
– CNBC's Eustance Huang, Dan Mangan and Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed reporting to this story.