Page last updated at 20:52 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 21:52 UK

Flu continues to weigh on markets

People wearing masks at a Mexican health centre
The outbreak is continuing to hit global investor sentiment

Global shares have fallen further in Tuesday trading as the swine flu outbreak continues to weigh on markets.

The UK's FTSE 100 finished the day 1.7% lower, while markets in Paris and Frankfurt ended almost 2% down. In the US, Wall Street also saw losses.

Japan's Nikkei earlier closed down 1.7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.4%.

"We had finally begun to see a bottom for the global economy and that has been ruined by pigs," said analyst Tsuyoshi Segawa of Shinko Securities.

However, other analysts said some investors were using the flu outbreak as an excuse to cash in profits by selling shares that have risen in recent weeks.

'Weakened position'

Shares in travel firms and airlines continued to fall on Tuesday, as investors fear people will put a halt to global travel until the outbreak is contained, or else governments will enforce their own flight bans.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease thought to spread through coughing and sneezing
Symptoms mimic those of normal flu - but in Mexico more than 100 people have died
Good hygiene like using a tissue and washing hands thoroughly can help reduce transmission

The Dow Jones fell 8 points to 8,016.9, while the FTSE 100 lost 70.6 points to close at 4,096.4.

Germany's Dax index finished 1.85% lower at 4,607.4. France's Cac 40 index fell 1.66% to 3,051.

Shares in British Airways were down 5.4%, while UK cruise ship operator Carnival was 2.5% lower, and travel firm TUI gave up 3.6%.

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific had earlier closed down 3%, while Taiwan's China Airlines and Eva Airways both declined 7% for the second consecutive day.

"Airlines are already in a weakened position with the global crisis sapping demand for corporate travel," said Stone Lin, an airline analyst at Yuanta Securities in Taiwan.

"With sentiment so weak, and worsened by the swine flu issue, it's unlikely anyone is going to go rushing to book holidays or corporate travel, which means the second half of this year won't be pretty for most airlines."

The swine flu virus can no longer be contained, a World Health Organization (WHO) official has said.

WHO Assistant Director General Keiji Fukuda said countries should now instead focus on mitigating the effects of the virus.

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