Coronavirus will hit you in the pocket but the UK is bearing up, says HARVEY JONES

British Airways-owner IAG plunged more than 10 percent, even though the UK and Ireland were exempted from Mr Trump’s ban, while European carriers such as Lufthansa and Air France-KLM fell even faster. Airlines, hotels, tour operators and cruise lines have high fixed costs, which leaves them vulnerable as customer numbers plunge. 

Even the oil slump offers little respite, as most airlines are locked into contracts at a far higher price, and aren’t yet benefiting from cheaper fuel. 

They need strong cash reserves and balance sheets to avoid going the way of Flybe. 

The benchmark FTSE 100 has now shed more than 2,400 points since mid-January, a drop of more than 30 percent to trade at levels last seen in 2012. 

We can finally declare the 11-year bull market dead. 

The good news is that the UK is still holding up relatively well, bolstered by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £30billion coronavirus battle plan. 

This pre-emptive shock-and-awe package of monetary and fiscal stimulus showed the world how to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Mr Sunak’s spending blitz should prevent previously healthy businesses from going under, and protect countless jobs, but a UK recession still looks unavoidable. 

As people stop travelling, shopping and working, they will spend less and high street retailers will take yet another hit. 

Yesterday, newsagent WHSmith issued a £40million profit warning as its lucrative airport shops fell empty. 

The coronavirus hasn’t just deprived us of the new James Bond film this spring, it also led Cineworld, the world’s second-largest cinema operator, to “cast significant doubt” on its ability to continue as a going concern. 

Travel, hotels, entertainment, retail and luxury goods firms are suffering most. 

Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell are down sharply, which could spell bad news for pensions, as a lengthy oil price slump could ultimately threaten dividends from two of the UK’s biggest payers. 

The business winners are likely to be found online, as self-isolating Britons amuse themselves with binge-watching television and home shopping. 

Tesco is holding up, as home grocery deliveries may prove a lifeline for many. 

Perhaps the biggest worry is that nobody can put a number on how bad this is going to get. 

As we recently saw with IAG, companies can no longer forecast their own 2020 profits. 

The big hope is that the economy snaps back quickly when coronavirus fears recede, and Britons hit the shops, restaurants and bars, and rush to bag bargain holidays, to spark a massive relief rally. 

Companies that survived the worst could bounce back stronger if weaker competitors have gone to the wall. 

As the lockdown intensifies, those days feel a long way off. 

They will come, though. 

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