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FTSE set to plunge as coronavirus spreads – live updates

Good morning. The FTSE 100 ended five days of downward movement to close in the green on Wednesday, as nerves calmed following days of sharp, coronavirus-driven dips. On Wall Street stocks finished mostly lower after a choppy trading session​.

The good mood looks unlikely to last – futures trading points to sharp drop for European shares today, as traders react to the continued spread of the virus.

This morning may well be dominated by corporate news, however: an absolute ton of companies are reporting. Let’s get into it.

5 things to start your day

1) Britain’s free trade future will be ruined without third runway, Heathrow boss warns: A legal ruling is due on Thursday morning that could unravel Heathrow's third runway plans 

2) Want some work training? Tune into YouTube... According to research by the think tank Demos (and supported by Google, which owns YouTube), two-thirds of workers do their own training on the internet, looking up the skills and information they need to do their jobs and get promotions.

3) NMC Health fires chief executive after uncovering secret loan deals: An investigation has uncovered guarantees by the company of loans to businesses owned by its shareholders

4) Germany is planning to temporarily suspend its longstanding government debt brake as it attempts to revive its economy. The spreading coronavirus and its likely impact on economic growth has added urgency to calls for Europe’s largest economy to loosen the purse strings.

5) Victims of collapsed savings firm London Capital & Finance (LCF) say they have been bombarded by messages from scammers and blame a major data breach at the City watchdog. LCF customers were among 1,600 people whose records were wrongly published on the website of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

What happened overnight

Stocks sunk deeper into the red on Thursday, oil prices fell and U.S. Treasuries rallied into record territory as more signs of the global spread of the coronavirus heightened fears of a pandemic.

Global markets have dropped for six straight days, wiping out more than $3.6 trillion in value. Much remains unknown about the virus that originated in China, but it is clear the ramifications of the world's second biggest economy in lockdown for a month or more are vast.

Analysts have sharply downgraded their China and global growth forecasts, while policymakers from Asia, Europe and the United States have begun to prepare for a potentially steep economic downturn than initially anticipated.

Oil, sensitive to global growth given the vast energy consumption in a many countries, fell more than 1pc to its cheapest in over a year.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5pc and is down more than 4% for the week.

The yield on U.S. Treasuries, which falls when prices rise, dropped in to uncharted waters underneath 1.3pc. Bets on monetary easing in the United States have surged.

Coming up today

James Bond’s theme song might be doing well, but his car has had a rocky ride. Jefferies analysts say that after a “roller-coaster” of a time for Aston Martin investors, the business looks set for a majority private-equity owned future with “dubious governance”. All eyes will be on new information on how the DBX is doing.

Interim results: Genus, Pantheon International

Full-year: Aston Martin Lagonda, Bakkavor, Drax, Evraz, Hastings, Mondi, Playtech, Reckitt Benckiser, RSA Insurance, Standard Chartered, Vistry

Preliminary: British American Tobacco, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Howden Joinery, Hunting, Inchcape, James Fisher & Sons, National Express, Persimmon, Provident Financial, Rentokil Initial, St James’s Place, Vesuvius, WPP

Trading statement: Amigo, Watches of Switzerland

Economics: Second estimate of GDP, durable goods order (US)