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London midday: Stocks under pressure amid warnings from health officials

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Wednesday 26 Feb 2020

London midday: Stocks under pressure amid warnings from health officials

(Sharecast News) - London stocks remained under pressure come midday on Wednesday, as health officials sounded the alarm over the near-pandemic status of the ongoing outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.81% at 6,961.32 at 1226 GMT, while the FTSE 250 was off 1.57% t0 20,391.17.

Sterling was against its primary trading pairs, last losing 0.62% against the US dollar to $1.29187 and falling 0.72% on the euro to €1.1866.

Overnight, the World Health Organisation warned that governments were "simply not ready" to tackle their own coronavirus outbreaks, as the illness spread further through Europe and UK officials announced plans for more widespread testing.

Bruce Aylward, who leads the joint WHO-China mission of experts, told the media that the success of authorities in the People's Republic in containing the infection had seen other governments take on a false sense of security.

Aylward's warning echoed that from the US Centres for Disease Control on Tuesday afternoon that an outbreak in the US was only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, thousands of Britons were set to be tested by GPs for the virus, as the spread of cases in Europe led to the belief that there could be more cases in the UK than were currently known.

Mass surveillance was set to be introduced, with health officials also said to be mulling school closures and restrictions on transport.

"What we appear to be seeing is the realisation that global economic growth could well come to a halt as the combined effects of a flu virus and belated attempts to stem the spread of it across the globe, raise the prospect of an economic sneeze, as consumers stop spending, and supply chains seize up, due to workers and consumers staying at home," said CMC Markets' chief market analyst Michael Hewson.

"Over the last 12 months or so the consumer has been the one remaining pillar that has been carrying the global economy, helping in the process to push stock markets up to their recent records.

"Now that politicians have started to close borders, impose restrictions on movement, as well as impose quarantines, investors appear to be preparing the ground for the inevitable profit and revenue downgrades that are likely to appear in the coming weeks and months."

In equities, travel plays continued to be hit hard amid the virus outbreak, with TUI, easyJet, Carnival, InterContinental Hotels Group all lower, although British Airways owner IAG was bucking the trend.

Taylor Wimpey was down after reporting a 5% increase in group completions to 16,042 for the year ended 31 December, including joint ventures.

Its revenue increased 6.4% to ?4.34bn, while operating profit slipped to ?850.5m from ?880.2m, which the board said reflected its volume growth, offset by rising build costs and flat house prices.

HICL Infrastructure shares were just below the waterline, after it announced the acquisition of transmission assets associated with the Galloper Windfarm, located off the coast of Suffolk, by Diamond Transmission Partners - a consortium comprising it and Mitsubishi subsidiary Diamond Transmission Corporation.

The FTSE 250 company said the transaction was part of Tender Round 5 of Ofgem's Offshore Transmission Owner (OFTO) programme.

Rio Tinto on the other hand had recovered following an early bout of selling, after it reported an 18% rise in full year underlying earnings on the back of soaring iron ore prices, offsetting lower shipments in 2019.

The company said it was prepared for the short-term impact to supply chains from the coronavirus outbreak.

Underlying earnings for the year to 31 December rose to $10.37bn from $8.81bn a year earlier.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,967.38 -0.72%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,398.62 -1.53%
techMARK (TASX) 3,947.80 -1.04%

FTSE 100 - Risers

NMC Health (NMC) 917.00p 4.18%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,700.00p 1.96%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 550.00p 1.91%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 807.20p 1.25%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,107.50p 1.14%
Evraz (EVR) 362.00p 0.64%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,611.40p 0.57%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 555.60p 0.51%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 340.90p 0.44%
Centrica (CNA) 76.28p 0.37%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 211.00p -3.65%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,807.00p -3.39%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 778.20p -3.35%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 7,812.00p -3.22%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 780.40p -3.18%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,222.00p -3.08%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,060.00p -2.93%
Rightmove (RMV) 634.60p -2.82%
Informa (INF) 724.00p -2.69%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,708.50p -2.59%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Weir Group (WEIR) 1,336.50p 6.88%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 382.00p 3.52%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 762.00p 3.04%
Royal Mail (RMG) 170.20p 2.35%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 398.80p 2.13%
Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 300.60p 1.76%
Serco Group (SRP) 153.00p 1.53%
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 1,279.00p 1.27%
Vietnam Enterprise Investments (DI) (VEIL) 422.50p 1.08%
Hilton Food Group (HFG) 1,060.00p 0.95%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Hochschild Mining (HOC) 184.70p -7.05%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 156.00p -6.45%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 110.80p -5.70%
PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 1,740.00p -5.43%
Trainline (TRN) 497.50p -5.24%
Playtech (PTEC) 308.90p -5.19%
SSP Group (SSPG) 567.00p -5.03%
Ascential (ASCL) 344.40p -4.60%
WH Smith (SMWH) 2,100.00p -4.55%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 316.00p -4.53%

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