Amid coronavirus fears, global manufacturing and service sectors experienced the steepest fall since 2009, says the February edition of IHS Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, released in early March.
China's economy has seen the largest fall, with South Korea, Japan and Taiwan also hit hard by the impact of the virus.
Chris Williamson, the research firm''s chief business economist, notes that outside of China, Japan in particular is "struggling at the moment," following a previous downturn in the fourth quarter of last year.
"Japan looks like it's on for a recession now," he points out.
While the PMI rose in the Eurozone, Williamson predicts a recession in both Italy and Germany, as well as a downturn in Spain and France, with virus outbreaks there "to act as a drag."
The UK economy has held fairly well following the general election in December, experiencing a small amount of growth. While its exit from the European Union at the end of January has helped ease some Brexit worries, concerns regarding future trade arrangements persist, says Williamson, who also expects the country's growing number of coronavirus cases to affect the economy going forward.
The U.S. suffered its first drop in overall business activity since 2013, following six months of slowing growth.
"Companies have become increasingly concerned that the COVID-19 outbreak will also hit demand, which is reportedly already cooling amid uncertainty leading up to the presidential election," says Williamson. "Recent stock market volatility could also further dampen consumer spending and deter business investment."