LONDON MARKET OPEN: Stocks Slide As Rising Virus Cases Hurt Mood

(Alliance News) - Asia's losses spilled over into Europe on Friday morning, with investors ...

Alliance News 10 July, 2020 | 8:50AM
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(Alliance News) - Asia's losses spilled over into Europe on Friday morning, with investors increasingly worried about the rising coronavirus infections in the US.

"As Europe walks in, traders on the continent are wasting little time hitting the sell button and putting Covid-19 risk-off programs into play as the sum of the second wave fears is starting to seep into play," AxiCorp analyst Stephen Innes commented.

The FTSE 100 index was down 21.31 points, or 0.4%, at 6,028.31 early Friday - at that price, the blue chip index is down 2.1% this week. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was marginally lower at 16,981.91. The AIM All-Share index, however, was 0.2% higher at 881.76.

The Cboe UK 100 index was down 0.4% at 600.54. The Cboe 250 was 0.2% lower at 14,373.54, and the Cboe Small Companies was down 0.2% at 9,193.06.

In mainland Europe, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.5% while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt was 0.3% lower early Friday.

"Market sentiment has turned more risk averse heading into the weekend," analyst at Lloyds Bank said.

Swissquote Bank analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya added: "The coronavirus cases and casualties keep on rising in the US, threatening the economic activity and recovery.

"Even if the Trump administration wouldn't allow another complete lockdown in the economy, the increasingly cautious behaviour from the population could seriously dent the speed of the post-Covid economic recovery."

In the US on Thursday, Wall Street ended in the red, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 1.4%, the S&P 500 0.6%, but the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed 0.5% higher.

The US on Thursday posted 65,551 new coronavirus cases, a record for a 24-hour period, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The country, the hardest-hit in the world by the pandemic, has a total caseload of more than 3.1 million, with 133,195 deaths.

The previous daily record was Tuesday, with more than 60,200 cases in one day. The US has seen a spike in infections in recent weeks, particularly in the south and west, and health experts worry the death rate may soon follow the same trajectory. According to the Johns Hopkins tracker at 0030 GMT Friday, 1,000 people died from Covid-19 in the US in the last 24 hours.

"We're in a very difficult, challenging period right now," top US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said Thursday during a teleconference organised by news outlet The Hill.

In Asia on Friday, the Japanese Nikkei 225 index closed down 1.1%. In China, the Shanghai Composite lost 2.0%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is 2.2% lower in late trade.

In positive news in Asia, Japanese producer prices returned to monthly growth in June, data from the Bank of Japan showed.

In June, producer prices rose 0.6% after a 0.5% fall in May. The last time the producer price index posted a month-on-month gain was January, when prices rose 0.1%.

Annually, prices fell 1.6% in June, but this was slower than the 2.8% fall recorded for May and the 2.4% fall seen in April.

In London, RSA Insurance was down 1.8% after HSBC cut the FTSE 100-listed insurer to Hold from Buy.

Travel stocks were hit as more regions across the globe re-enter lockdown. Carnival shed 4.9%, British Airways-parent International Consolidated Airlines lost 2.7%, easyJet 1.4% and TUI 2.7%.

Midcap gold miner Petropavlovsk was 3.4% higher after it said Non-Executive Chair Peter Hambro, Chief Executive Alya Samokhvalova, Non-Executive Directors Johnny Smith, Martin Smith and Angelica Phillips will remain directors after a court requested a full hearing of Everest Alliance's application to remove them from their roles.

Petropavlovsk said that while the judge found that Everest's complaints that the directors were not validly appointed were arguable, he declined to determine its application summarily and instead now requires a full hearing of Everest's application.

Earlier on Friday, Everest - which has a 7.5% stake - requisitioned a general meeting to propose the hire of two new directors.

Elsewhere on the Main Market, Gym Group was 2.5% higher after it confirmed it will be re-opening its 160 gyms in England on July 25, with its 13 sites in Scotland and Wales to follow "as soon a possible", when local restrictions are lifted.

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on Thursday allowed the reopening of swimming pools, gyms and outdoor arts performances in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England.

Gym Group said it saw a "significant" number of cancellations when gyms were forced to shut in mid-March, but as of Friday had 692,000 members, down from 870,000 at March 18.

The gym operator said its own research indicates 92% of its members are keen to return to the gym.

International Personal Finance added 5.9%. The Leeds, England-based international home credit business said it is "well-placed" going forward as its collections effectiveness continued to improve in June.

The company, against the Covid-19 background, is encouraged by the extent to which the company is now stabilising into a "new normal" operational environment.

International Personal Finance said collections effectiveness continued to improve in June, reaching 88% of pre-Covid expectations. It was at 76% in April and 80% in May.

Going forward, the company said it expects collections effectiveness to progressively improve in the coming months.

International Personal Finance said there is a continuing strong demand for its products. As lockdown restrictions are progressively relaxed and the company's collections effectiveness is improved, it said it has increased credit issued. In June the company lent 37% of pre-Covid expectations, up from 30% during both of April and May.

Brent oil was trading at USD41.60 a barrel early Friday, lower than USD42.33 late Thursday, as fears of further lockdowns drive prices lower.

CityIndex analyst Fiona Cincotta said: "The recent hit to demand from April's lockdown is still very fresh in traders' minds. Fears of a repeat, with a second lockdown are seeing traders sell out of oil bloated inventories are also acting as a drag. With little in the way of high impacting data, it seems unlikely that traders will find reason to bid up oil heading into the weekend."

As a result, London's oil majors were suffering Friday morning. Royal Dutch Shell 'A' shares lost 1.6%, while the 'B' shares slipped 1.8%. BP gave back 1.3%.

Safe haven asset gold was quoted at USD1,798.10 an ounce early Friday, down on USD1,802.2 an ounce at the London equities close Thursday, retreating from multi-year highs reached during the week.

The dollar was stronger across the board Friday morning.

Cincotta commented: "Riskier assets such as equities are out of favour, as are riskier currencies. Meanwhile the safe haven US dollar is gaining ground. The US dollar jumped following jobless claims data in the previous session, which showed that whilst initial claims were at a 4 month low, the total number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose to 32.9 million stoking fears over the health of the recovery."

Sterling was quoted at USD1.2574 early Friday, down on USD1.2615 at the London equities close on Thursday.

The euro traded at USD1.1265 early Friday, down from USD1.1297 late Thursday. Against the yen, the dollar was quoted at JPY106.84 versus JPY107.27.

Still to come Friday, the economic events calendar has US producer prices and Canada unemployment data at 1330 BST.

By Paul McGowan;

Copyright 2020 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
Gym Group (The) PLC 130.40 GBX -2.25 -
RSA Insurance Group PLC 438.40 GBX 2.17 -
BP PLC 281.05 GBX 2.14
Petropavlovsk PLC 35.40 GBX -2.21 -
easyJet PLC 507.20 GBX 2.84 -
TUI AG 287.90 GBX -0.07 -
Royal Dutch Shell PLC B 1,100.80 GBX 1.85
International Personal Finance PLC 55.60 GBX 1.83 -
Carnival PLC 802.00 GBX -2.98
Royal Dutch Shell PLC Class A 1,143.40 GBX 1.94 -
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA 163.85 GBX -0.55 -

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