European shares fell on Wednesday in their first trading session of the quarter, as dismal economic data from Asia underpinned the ongoing damage from the coronavirus pandemic and fanned fears of a deep global recession.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 2.4% at 0705 GMT, after ending Tuesday with its worst quarter in 18 years as lockdown measures to contain the virus outbreak upended business activity, raising the threat of corporate defaults and mass layoffs.
Figures on Wednesday showed factory activity contracting across most of Asia in March as the outbreak paralysed supply chains, with sharp falls in export power-houses Japan and South Korea overshadowing a modest improvement in China.
London's blue-chip FTSE 100 shed 2.5%, with financials slumping 7% as a number of UK banks joined European peers in suspending dividend payments to shore up liquidity. (Reuters)