London midday: Stocks turn higher despite Covid concerns
London stocks had shaken off early losses to trade higher by midday on Friday despite ongoing concerns about a rise in new coronavirus cases and a gloomy economic forecast from ratings agency Moody’s.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 6,075.10.
IG said: "European markets are hoping to end the week on the high, as plans for further reopening and economic expansion help overshadow the ongoing fear around the direction of travel for the US.
"The one particular area of strength for the UK over the back end of the week have been in the housebuilding sector, with the implementation of a stamp duty holiday helping to boost sentiment after a period of low confidence given the recent recession and Brexit fears."
Moody’s said earlier that the UK’s economy will shrink by more than 10% this year - the worst impact among major economies from the Covid-19 crisis.
Britain's GDP will contract by 10.1% in 2020 and will recover gradually next year helped by measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Moody's said. But the agency said government support would cause government debt to surge.
Moody's said: "The extensive policy response provides support to the economy against the continuing challenges posed by the coronavirus-induced shock … Our forecast estimates a sharper peak-to-trough contraction for the UK than for any other G20 economy."
In equity markets, Petropavlovsk shares rose after one of its investors called for a shareholder meeting to remove Peter Hambro and four other directors who were installed in a boardroom coup.
The Russian goldminer said it would hold a meeting at the request of Everest Alliance, which holds about 5% of the company's shares.
Everest wants Hambro, Alya Samokhvalova, Johnny Martin Smith, Martin Smith and Angelica Phillips to leave the board after they were elected on 30 June. Everest has proposed two new directors and wants four current directors to be kept on before the meeting.
London commercial landlord Great Portland Estates edged up after saying it had collected 69% of June rent to date including amounts covered by rent deposits as tenants felt the pressure of the coronavirus lockdown. This figure slumped to 58% when deposits were excluded with 74% collected from office tenants. Only 28% came in from retail, hospitality and leisure sectors clients, hit hardest by the shuttering.
On the downside, insurer Hastings slid after Goldman Sachs placed 22 million shares in the company.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,206.00p 3.52%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 192.40p 2.67%
National Grid (NG.) 872.20p 2.61%
SSE (SSE) 1,320.50p 2.60%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,219.00p 2.54%
Fresnillo (FRES) 948.20p 2.44%
Avast (AVST) 567.00p 2.35%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 921.00p 2.33%
M&G (MNG) 175.35p 2.30%
Barclays (BARC) 114.50p 2.27%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 639.80p -1.69%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 2,875.00p -1.54%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,948.00p -1.37%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,551.50p -1.12%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,121.00p -0.98%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,561.50p -0.92%
Next (NXT) 4,665.00p -0.74%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,190.00p -0.59%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,366.00p -0.59%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 206.30p -0.58%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 160.40p 6.51%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 292.00p 5.99%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 260.50p 5.89%
PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 1,125.00p 5.63%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 449.40p 5.49%
ICG Enterprise Trust (ICGT) 780.00p 5.41%
Contour Global (GLO) 202.00p 5.21%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 27.40p 5.18%
AO World (AO.) 161.60p 4.94%
IntegraFin Holding (IHP) 498.00p 4.84%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hastings Group Holdings (HSTG) 178.80p -5.45%
Hammerson (HMSO) 74.10p -4.76%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 278.60p -3.03%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 879.00p -1.90%
Capita (CPI) 38.33p -1.62%
Energean (ENOG) 490.00p -1.61%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 190.20p -1.35%
Coats Group (COA) 52.50p -1.32%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 45.40p -1.30%
Carnival (CCL) 931.80p -1.29%