European shares tumble as pandemic fears grip Europe

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March 16 (Reuters) - European shares plunged on Monday as the coronavirus pandemic raged through much of Europe, with dramatic monetary easing by global central banks failing to reassure investors about its growing economic damage.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 4.5% to its lowest since 2013, with bourses in France and Spain leading losses as the two countries joined Italy in enforcing a national lockdown.

The U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near zero in another emergency move on Sunday and pledged hundreds of billions of dollars in asset purchases, saying the epidemic was having a “profound” impact on the economy.

Central banks in Japan, Australia and New Zealand followed with their own measures, but could not stem a slide in global stocks. S&P 500 futures tumbled 4.77% to their daily down limit shortly after resuming trading on Sunday night.

Energy stocks tracked a dive in oil prices, while airlines EasyJet, British-Airways owner IAG and Air France - KLM were among the biggest decliners on the STOXX 600. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)