Britain’s top stock market shed more than £40 billion in a bloodbath opening hour of trading this morning, as investors dumped shares amid a rapidly deteriorating outlook for the world economy. The FTSE 100 slumped by almost three per cent to reach its lowest level since June 2012, at one point dropping below the 5,500 mark. Since the start of 2016, the bluechip index, which holds the pension savings of millions of Britons, has lost a staggering £144billion.

A toxic cocktail of factors has sent terror ripping through markets, including fears over China’s slowing economy and the affect of lower oil prices. But now investors are seriously worried about the European banks’ balance sheets and the affect of negative interest rates on their profitably as data suggests a recession could be looming. In recent days shares in Britain’s biggest players, including RBS, Lloyds and Barclay have seen their shares plummet to multi-year lows. READ MORE