Global stock markets have fallen sharply as investors continue to worry about the broader economic effects of the coronavirus.

London’s FTSE 100 share index fell more than 3% and there were similar declines in other European markets.

Upbeat pay and unemployment data failed to buoy Wall Street when the market opened.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened 2.7% lower, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 registering similar declines.

US employers added 273,000 jobs in February – significantly beating expectations – while the jobless rate fell back to near a 50-year low of 3.5%.

The Labor Department report also revised up estimates of job gains in January and December, finding 85,000 more than previously understood.

The surveys, however, reflect data collected before the outbreak intensified. In recent weeks, global travel has plunged, while work, school and shopping has been disrupted in many countries.

Despite the strong data, the markets were against focusing on the impact of the virus. “Today’s jobs report is old news,” said Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo.

The economic strength signalled in the report is a “little like the saying, the car was in fine condition before being involved in a collision”, said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com.

“The new reality, amid tremendous uncertainty, is the world has experienced a seismic shift,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, markets in Asia had seen big falls, with Japan’s Nikkei share index dropping by 2.7%.

The 3.75% drop in the FTSE 100 wipes out the gains seen earlier this week on the index.

Shares in travel companies saw some of the steepest falls once again. Cruise operator Carnival fell 4.9% to hit its lowest price since 2012.

Other big losers in the sector included EasyJet, Tui and British Airways owner IAG, which each fell more than 4%.

Elsewhere in Europe, shares in budget carrier Norwegian fell 26.2% and Air France KLM, which owns the French and Dutch flag carriers, fell 14.6%.

Banks were another group that took a hit, as investors anticipate that interest rates might be cut in order to make borrowing cheaper for companies and consumers to keep the economy buoyant.

“The markets didn’t even bother with the pretence of a calm start on Friday, bringing another rough week to a close,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at financial spread better Spreadex.

“The week’s various central bank rate cuts only served to reinforce the seriousness of the situation.”

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Read more at BBC News

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