LONDON - Panic in the stock market over the spreading coronavirus continued into a seventh day on Friday, with shares in the United States tumbling following steep declines in Asia and Europe.

The S&P 500 index dropped about 2 percent just before noon on Friday. Before trading began, the index was already down 12 percent from a record high reached just last week, and the drop has put the index on track for its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.

The sell-off is fueled mostly by worry that measures to contain the virus would hamper corporate profits and economic growth, and fears that the outbreak could get worse. The selling has dragged stock benchmarks around the world into a correction — a drop of 10 percent or more that’s taken as a measure of extreme pessimism — in a matter of days.

On Friday, the slide in Asia and Europe followed a 4.4 percent nose-dive in the S&P 500 index on Thursday, the worst day for American shares since 2011.

The FTSE 100 plunged four per cent today to land in correction territory as the UK reported a rise to 19 coronavirus cases as global stock markets tumbled.

London’s blue-chip index lost 4.11 per cent, or 280 points, to plummet to 6,516.9 points.

Analysts warned there was no end in sight for markets misery as the coronavirus outbreak spread across the world.

As of yesterday the FTSE 100 had shed £158 billion ($220bn) for the week following collective falls of 8.5 per cent since Monday.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 in Britain fell more than 3 percent and the DAX in Germany fell more than 4 percent.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed down 3.7 percent, the KOSPI in South Korea dropped 3.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite in China dropped 3.7 percent.

Oil prices continued a drop, reflecting decreased demand as factories and transportation slow down.

Investors have also poured into investments like gold and government bonds, which are generally considered safer.

Economic forecasters have cut their estimates of economic growth in the United States and around the world this year out of fear of effects from the coronavirus.

The projections vary widely, because economists are struggling to predict the spread of the virus and the resulting damage to growth.

More countries are reporting outbreaks, with over 83,000 people worldwide in at least 53 countries sickened so far. Hundreds of companies have begun taking measures to try to prevent the illness from afflicting their workers, including restricting travel and asking employees to work from home. All of these could curtail productivity.

The Swiss government banned all gatherings of more than 1,000 people at least until March 15, forcing cancellation of the Geneva International Motor Show.

Employees at Amazon’s worldwide operations — the company’s largest division, which runs the technology and operations for warehouses, deliveries, Prime membership and physical stores, among other things — were told that they should not travel domestically or internationally “until further notice,” according to emails viewed by The New York Times.  

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices also suffered losses of more than four per cent. Global stocks had lost £2.9 trillion for the week as of yesterday’s close, according to AJ Bell.