London close: Stocks end lower as US-China concerns continue
London stocks closed firmly in the red on Friday, amid growing tensions between the US and China.
The FTSE 100 ended the session down 2.29% at 6,076.60 and the FTSE 250 was off 1.7% at 17,042.96.
Sterling was mixed against both of its major trading pairs, strengthening 0.15% against the dollar to last trade at $1.2339, while sliding 0.26% on the euro to €1.1094.
Jitters set in on the markets earlier, after US president Donald Trump announced he would be holding a press conference on Friday "on China" but gave no further details.
“With China’s parliament rubber-stamping the new national security laws set to be imposed on Hong Kong, sending armed police to swarm the streets of the administrative region in an attempt to combat pro-democracy protests, Donald Trump has promised to hold a press conference this Friday,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
“It will potentially outline the actions the President is set to take against China, the said same vague actions he threatened if China passed the security laws earlier in the week.
“This has been seen by investors as a step towards escalation, especially since the impending press conference was preceded on Wednesday by the House passing a bill condemning China’s detention and torture of Uighur Muslims.”
In equity markets, travel stocks were under the cosh, with Carnival down 10.68%, easyJet off 8.11%, and British Airways parent IAG 7.26% lower.
Rolls-Royce suffered losses of 14.86% after Standard & Poor’s downgraded its long and short-term credit ratings to BB and B, respectively, with a negative outlook.
AstraZeneca reversed earlier gains to fall 1.36%, even after the pharmaceuticals giant said a clinical trial of its Tagrisso drug to treat non-small cell lung cancer reduced the risk of disease recurrence or death by approximately 80%.
On the upside, B&M European Value Retail racked up gains of 5.5% after it reported a rise in sales in the first eight weeks of the new fiscal year, as locked-down Britons took advantage of the sunny weather to do home repairs and gardening during the coronavirus crisis.
In broker note action, Provident Financial surged 4.31% on the back of an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Jefferies, and Rio Tinto was boosted 0.57% by an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, while Direct Line dipped 2% below the waterline, despite an upgrade to ‘overweight’ at Barclays.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,191.00p 4.23%
British Land Company (BLND) 407.30p 2.54%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 558.20p 2.16%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 917.60p 1.96%
Aveva Group (AVV) 4,088.00p 1.26%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,224.00p 1.23%
Rightmove (RMV) 586.40p 0.96%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 194.00p 0.94%
SSE (SSE) 1,241.50p 0.93%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 605.80p 0.80%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 271.60p -14.86%
Carnival (CCL) 1,051.50p -10.68%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 115.15p -8.50%
easyJet (EZJ) 680.00p -8.11%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,184.00p -7.46%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 228.50p -7.26%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 143.60p -7.21%
M&G (MNG) 140.00p -6.67%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 497.00p -6.58%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 110.35p -6.52%
FTSE 250 - Risers
GCP Student Living (DIGS) 134.60p 7.11%
Future (FUTR) 1,380.00p 6.15%
Gamesys Group (GYS) 846.00p 5.61%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 24.90p 5.51%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 389.70p 5.50%
Rank Group (RNK) 140.60p 5.14%
LXI Reit (LXI) 116.80p 4.47%
Provident Financial (PFG) 196.00p 4.31%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 627.00p 3.98%
AJ Bell (AJB) 397.50p 3.65%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 436.10p -16.23%
Hyve Group (HYVE) 96.79p -11.83%
Investec (INVP) 145.80p -11.12%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 89.14p -11.04%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 192.25p -10.87%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 84.40p -10.06%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 150.20p -9.63%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 406.70p -9.46%
Savills (SVS) 863.00p -8.00%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 181.00p -6.99%