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London open: Stocks fall as Sino-US relations sour, new Covid cases rise

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Thursday 21 May 2020

London open: Stocks fall as Sino-US relations sour, new Covid cases rise

(Sharecast News) - London stocks fell in early trade on Thursday as growing tensions between the US and China and a rise in new coronavirus cases weighed on sentiment.
At 0840 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.7% at 6,024.63.

The downbeat mood came after the head of the World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that the number of new coronavirus cases hit a daily record high this week as countries across Europe begin to lift lockdown measures.

Meanwhile, relations between the US and China soured overnight, after the US Senate passed a bill that could ban some Chinese companies from listing on American exchanges. US President Donald Trump inflamed the situation further by taking to Twitter to lash out against China over the coronavirus pandemic.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "Donald Trump's increasingly inflammatory election tactics weighed heavy on the markets on Thursday.

"Having already recently threatened to pull the US out of the WHO due to the organisation's 'pro-China' bias, while blaming the pandemic on the 'incompetence' of the rival superpower, Trump went further on Wednesday night, accusing Beijing of spreading 'pain and carnage' throughout the world. He also went on to state that China is on a 'massive disinformation campaign' because they want Joe Biden in the White House.

"Crucially, at the same time as this Twitter storm, the US government published a 20-page report detailing China's so-called 'malign activities', covering its economic and military policies, as well as its human rights violations."

In equity markets, pub and hotel operator Whitbread was under pressure after saying it was raising £1bn in a rights issue to bolster its balance sheet against the impact of the pandemic as it warned of a potential loss in 2021.

Car dealership Inchcape was in the red as it posted a 32% decline in revenue for the four months to the end of April and a 76% slump in like-for-like revenues in April, mainly due to Covid-19 disruption.

Pets at Home was also weaker as it said full-year revenue topped £1bn for the first time but warned that first-half pre-tax profit will take a hit from the virus outbreak.

Building materials group Grafton was knocked lower by a downgrade to 'neutral' at Davy.

On the upside, Intertek was the standout gainer after saying it would pay its final dividend as the company reported a 4.6% fall in revenue for the first four months of 2020.

EasyJet rallied as the budget airline said it would begin to restart flying on 15 June with extra measures to reduce the risk of infection from Covid-19.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,024.63 -0.70%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 16,218.89 -0.91%
techMARK (TASX) 3,691.12 -0.62%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,168.00p 4.66%
easyJet (EZJ) 565.40p 2.73%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,019.00p 1.13%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,121.00p 1.00%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 276.20p 0.91%
Aviva (AV.) 240.70p 0.71%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 184.30p 0.63%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,543.50p 0.49%
Next (NXT) 4,517.00p 0.11%
Pearson (PSON) 442.30p 0.00%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Whitbread (WTB) 2,551.00p -10.27%
3i Group (III) 779.20p -3.25%
Tesco (TSCO) 227.90p -2.77%
Meggitt (MGGT) 267.00p -2.59%
Carnival (CCL) 940.00p -2.49%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 556.80p -2.45%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 3,515.00p -2.25%
Glencore (GLEN) 150.44p -2.17%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 404.60p -2.15%
Evraz (EVR) 258.00p -2.12%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Ninety One (N91) 219.20p 6.41%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 38.90p 4.71%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 123.60p 3.78%
Rank Group (RNK) 134.80p 3.69%
Drax Group (DRX) 210.20p 3.24%
IP Group (IPO) 58.00p 3.02%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 65.50p 2.66%
BMO Commercial Property Trust Limited (BCPT) 62.70p 1.95%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 642.60p 1.42%
AJ Bell (AJB) 454.00p 1.34%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Inchcape (INCH) 467.60p -5.65%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 614.50p -4.58%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 208.40p -3.96%
Edinburgh Worldwide Inv Trust (EWI) 233.00p -3.92%
Hammerson (HMSO) 61.44p -3.88%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 221.20p -3.74%
Vivo Energy (VVO) 70.30p -3.70%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,174.00p -3.61%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 37.18p -3.53%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 55.00p -3.25%


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