London close: Stocks end down as Omicron dents sentiment
London stocks ended firmly in the red on Tuesday after the boss of Moderna cast doubt over the efficacy of vaccines on the Omicron Covid variant.
The FTSE 100 closed down 0.7% at 7,059.45.
Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times that existing vaccines will struggle with the Omicron variant and warned that it could take months for pharmaceutical companies to make enough jabs at a sufficient scale to make a difference.
However, the FTSE did pare losses in the afternoon after BioNTech’s boss struck a more optimistic note. Ugur Sahin said that while the new variant could lead to more infections among the vaccinated, they will most likely be protected from serious illness.
IG market analyst Joshua Mahony said: "While data remains thin on the ground given the relative infancy of this strain, markets are likely to remain highly volatile and unpredictable as they react to any news that could guide our expectations over how this will play out."
In equity markets, British Airways and Iberia owner IAG flew lower, while shopping centre owners British Land and Land Securities also fell amid concerns about how the new variant and any potential restrictions could affect their performance.
Budget airline easyJet was also down even after it reported a better-than-expected annual loss and said it expected capacity to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the current fiscal year.
Property group Shaftesbury fell despite restoring its progressive dividend policy and reporting improving trends and a narrower annual loss, while Countryside Properties slumped after it revised down its targets for FY22.
Oil giants BP and Shell both gushed lower as oil prices fell.
Micro Focus slumped after saying it was targeting up to $500m of cost cuts and at least flat revenue by the end of 2023 as the company seeks to turn its business round.
On the upside, miners Anglo American and BHP both gained as metals prices advanced.
Media group Future surged after saying it now anticipates adjusted results for FY22 to be "materially above" current expectations.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Anglo American (AAL) 2,772.00p 3.30%
BHP Group (BHP) 2,066.50p 2.35%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,372.00p 2.27%
Aviva (AV.) 385.00p 1.80%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 157.90p 1.54%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 212.60p 1.05%
Rightmove (RMV) 746.80p 0.92%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,923.00p 0.84%
Evraz (EVR) 576.00p 0.70%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 419.35p 0.70%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 6,502.00p -5.36%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 276.60p -4.52%
Entain (ENT) 1,669.00p -4.41%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,462.50p -3.91%
Pearson (PSON) 593.20p -3.48%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,449.00p -3.28%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 727.00p -3.20%
BT Group (BT.A) 158.60p -2.94%
Kingfisher (KGF) 316.80p -2.82%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 2,090.00p -2.79%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Future (FUTR) 3,584.00p 12.28%
Discoverie Group (DSCV) 1,004.00p 2.76%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 97.06p 2.71%
Investec (INVP) 376.00p 1.84%
Ninety One (N91) 253.60p 1.60%
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,692.00p 1.56%
Greencore Group (CDI) (GNC) 125.00p 1.54%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 270.60p 1.27%
Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 359.50p 1.27%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 288.60p 1.26%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
AO World (AO.) 94.70p -9.72%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 345.20p -8.29%
Bridgepoint Group (Reg S) (BPT) 488.00p -7.05%
Countryside Properties (CSP) 413.00p -6.09%
Man Group (EMG) 214.40p -5.76%
FirstGroup (FGP) 93.00p -5.54%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 47.00p -4.70%
Clarkson (CKN) 3,605.00p -4.38%
888 Holdings (888) 310.20p -4.20%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,326.00p -4.16%