European stock index futures plunge as virus fears grow

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March 18 (Reuters) - European stock index futures fell more than 5% on Wednesday as fears over the relentless global spread of the coronavirus overshadowed sweeping U.S. stimulus measures to support businesses and contain the economic damage from the pandemic.

Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 4.6% at levels last seen in 2012, and falling for the ninth time in 10 days.

German DAX futures tumbled 4.5%, while French CAC futures and London’s FTSE 100 futures were off 4.5% and 4.6%, respectively.

European investor sentiment has been crushed over the past month as some countries in the bloc imposed national lockdowns to halt the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Italy’s prime minister on Tuesday declared the virus was causing a “socio-economic tsunami” as European leaders agreed to seal off external borders.

S&P 500 e-minis fell 3.69% to hit their daily down trading limit. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)