Europe Inc's profit expectations for the second and third quarters continued to deteriorate sharply, Refinitiv data shows, as businesses are sharply hit by lockdowns of major cities. 

Countries around the world are forcing people to stay at home in an attempt to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, leading to businesses shutting down and demand for goods faltering. 

Companies listed on the pan-European STOXX 600 are now expected to report a 21.9% decline in earnings in the second quarter, down from a 14.9% drop forecast the week before. For the third quarter, analysts see a 15.4% fall. 

Before the virus outbreak, analysts were expecting Europe to end its corporate recession, which lasted throughout 2019, but those hopes have since been quashed. 

Analysts at Barclays, Citi and other major banks said they were expecting European earnings to drop between 35% and 50%. 

Global earnings forecasts have been steadily falling, with major banks expecting a 2008-like decline in profits. 

"We expect the economic fallout from Covid-19 to be as severe as the 2008-09 recession, but briefer," said Emmanuel Cau, Barclays European equity strategist. 

But the Refinitiv consensus forecasts are not yet reflecting the potential full extent of the drop in profits, as some analysts are still finding it difficult to predict the economic impact of the virus.