London close: Benchmark finishes lower amid China concerns, poor UK data
London’s benchmark pared back some earlier losses on Friday afternoon, but still closed in the red following news that Beijing was planning to impose a new security law on Hong Kong, and after the release of uninspiring UK data.
The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.37% at 5,993.28, while the FTSE 250 eked out gains of 0.08% to 16,398.86.
Sterling was mixed against its major trading pairs, last weakening 0.34% against the dollar to $1.2181, while strengthening 0.2% on the euro to €1.1183.
Sentiment took a hit earlier in the day, after it emerged that China is planning to introduce a national security law on Hong Kong that would ban "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" of the central government in Beijing.
US president Donald Trump said he would "react strongly" if China goes ahead with the plan.
“This is a potentially significant flash point that will stir local protests and will anger the US,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.
“At a time of already strained relations between China and the West, this decision will only isolate Beijing even more.
“Investors will need to add renewed Hong Kong-Beijing tensions into their mix of geopolitical risks, whilst the way it fits into the broader US-China rivalry will be closely watched.”
Also weighing on the mood was China's decision to scrap its annual growth target for the first time since records began in 1990, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
On home shores, the latest data releases did nothing to boost investor morale.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed retail sales tumbled 18.1% in April, marking the biggest fall since records began in 1988 amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Meanwhile, government borrowing hit its highest level on record last month at £62.1bn.
Unsurprisingly, Asia-focused Prudential and HSBC were under the cosh, falling 9.29% and 4.99%, respectively.
Elsewhere, investment platform AJ Bell was 15.13% lower after fund manager Invesco sold a 7.6% stake in the company.
Passenger transport operator Go-Ahead lost 10.6% as it warned that full-year operating profit will fall short of consensus expectations due to the pandemic.
On the upside, luxury fashion brand Burberry rallied 3.27% despite pulling its final dividend and saying it took a £241m hit as a result of the virus outbreak.
Future added 10.05% after it said operating profits surged in an "exceptionally strong" first half despite the Covid-19 pandemic impacting trading at the end of the period.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Whitbread (WTB) 2,577.00p 5.57%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,420.00p 3.27%
DCC (DCC) 6,694.00p 3.18%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 521.00p 3.17%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,846.00p 2.95%
Fresnillo (FRES) 794.00p 2.72%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 3,647.00p 2.62%
M&G (MNG) 123.55p 2.36%
3i Group (III) 813.20p 2.14%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 140.90p 2.06%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Prudential (PRU) 1,015.00p -9.29%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 190.80p -7.42%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 379.00p -4.99%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 882.20p -4.32%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,371.00p -3.93%
Centrica (CNA) 35.29p -3.29%
National Grid (NG.) 880.60p -3.12%
easyJet (EZJ) 554.00p -3.03%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 382.00p -2.43%
Pennon Group (PNN) 1,114.50p -2.37%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Marston's (MARS) 66.00p 102.70%
Future (FUTR) 1,216.00p 11.36%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 138.00p 6.05%
IP Group (IPO) 61.10p 5.70%
Avast (AVST) 507.00p 5.67%
Biffa (BIFF) 234.50p 5.36%
Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 73.50p 5.00%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 886.00p 3.63%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 179.60p 3.31%
Trainline (TRN) 512.00p 3.18%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
AJ Bell (AJB) 378.50p -15.13%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,099.00p -10.58%
Investec (INVP) 145.15p -5.90%
Rank Group (RNK) 132.00p -4.35%
FirstGroup (FGP) 53.40p -4.30%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 35.46p -4.16%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 730.00p -4.07%
Greencore Group (GNC) 127.00p -3.93%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 94.56p -3.75%
Spectris (SXS) 2,593.00p -3.57%