London midday: Stocks fall further; Boris Johnson tests positive for Covid-19
London stocks had extended losses by midday on Friday after three days of gains, with concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continuing to mount after the US overtook China for the most confirmed cases.
The FTSE 100 was down 4.8% at 5,538.37 as it emerged that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had tested positive for the coronavirus, but is only experiencing mild symptoms.
CMC Markets analyst David Madden said: "Equity markets are in the red amid the deepening health crisis. Italy, Spain and the US are in the spotlight in terms of confirmed cases. Today the EU leaders will hold a virtual summit to discuss the situation. There has already been criticism levied at European leaders for a lack of coordination in tackling the pandemic. The absence of a strong united front is hanging over equity markets this morning. US lawmakers will vote again on the rescue package, and traders are hopeful it will get approved.
"As far as the UK market goes, it is a broad based sell-off as banks, natural resource, supermarket, travel, consumer goods and transport stocks are in the red."
In equity markets, shares of cruise operator Carnival sank, while doorstep lender Provident Financial slid after pulling its forward guidance and cancelling its dividend due to the pandemic.
Royal Mail was sharply lower after warning that its parcels, international and letters business (UKPIL) was likely to make a loss while profitability at its European business, GLS, will be "significantly reduced" due Covid-19. The company also suspended guidance for 2020-21 and beyond.
Housebuilders were under pressure after several big names announced the closure of their sites this week, with Redrow the latest to confirm closures of its sites and offices, as it said it was in talks with banks about securing more credit.
Retailer Next fell after saying it had shut its online, warehousing and distribution operations overnight after staff expressed concerns about working during the coronavirus lockdown.
Infrastructure group Balfour Beatty lost ground after saying it has postponed the payment its final dividend and that the main members of its board have agreed to take a 20% pay cut.
Energy supplier SSE was weaker after saying earnings would be at the lower end of guidance given in January and that it would still pay its full-year dividend despite the impact of the coronavirus on markets.
Online real estate agent Rightmove retreated as it cancelled its dividend and pulled full-year guidance as due to uncertainties caused by the impact of Covid-19.
Defence engineering firm Meggitt was down after pulling its final dividend to save cash as the coronavirus pandemic hit its aerospace market.
Industrial thread manufacturer Coats Group fell after saying it was scrapping its dividend and that it expects revenues to slide due to the outbreak.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,492.50p -0.63%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 204.00p -0.83%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 881.80p -0.88%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,900.00p -1.17%
Tesco (TSCO) 230.80p -1.45%
National Grid (NG.) 927.50p -1.51%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,285.00p -1.57%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 176.55p -1.67%
Aveva Group (AVV) 3,502.00p -2.07%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,213.00p -2.12%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Carnival (CCL) 1,037.00p -16.03%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 360.50p -9.76%
Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 6,688.00p -9.74%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,676.00p -9.70%
ITV (ITV) 65.82p -8.68%
Next (NXT) 4,138.00p -8.21%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 237.40p -7.98%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 121.95p -7.96%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 862.50p -7.90%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 441.00p -7.76%
FTSE 250 - Risers
PureTech Health (PRTC) 245.00p 13.95%
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 728.00p 4.75%
Pollen Street Secured Lending (PSSL) 692.00p 4.53%
HGCapital Trust (HGT) 217.50p 2.84%
Beazley (BEZ) 394.40p 2.02%
Fidelity Special Values (FSV) 177.00p 1.14%
PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 980.00p 1.03%
Computacenter (CCC) 1,409.00p 1.00%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 939.00p 0.81%
The Renewables Infrastructure Group Limited (TRIG) 120.60p 0.67%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Provident Financial (PFG) 214.00p -15.52%
Royal Mail (RMG) 139.20p -14.05%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 79.10p -12.81%
IWG (IWG) 157.65p -11.95%
Vistry Group (VTY) 570.50p -10.72%
Bodycote (BOY) 528.00p -10.66%
FirstGroup (FGP) 47.42p -10.53%
Kingfisher (KGF) 151.90p -10.41%
Ninety One (N91) 162.20p -9.49%
Morgan Sindall Group (MGNS) 1,192.00p -9.28%