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London midday: Stocks in the red as Hong Kong worries, dire data weigh

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Friday 22 May 2020

London midday: Stocks in the red as Hong Kong worries, dire data weigh

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were still in the red by midday on Friday following news that Beijing is planning to impose a new security law on Hong Kong and after the release of uninspiring UK data.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.9% at 5,959.19.

Sentiment took a hit after it emerged that China is planning to introduce a national security law on Hong Kong that would ban "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" of the central government in Beijing. US President Donald Trump said he would "react strongly" if China goes ahead with the plan.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "This is a potentially significant flash point that will stir local protests and will anger the US. At a time of already strained relations between China and the West, this decision will only isolate Beijing even more.

"Investors will need to add renewed Hong Kong-Beijing tensions into their mix of geopolitical risks, whilst the way it fits into the broader US-China rivalry will be closely watched."

Also weighing on the mood was China's decision to scrap its annual growth target for the first time since records began in 1990 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

On home shores, the latest data releases did nothing to boost investor morale. Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed retail sales tumbled 18.1% in April, marking the biggest fall since records began in 1988 amid the coronavirus lockdown. Meanwhile, government borrowing hit its highest level on record last month at £62.1bn.

Unsurprisingly, Asia-focused Prudential and HSBC were under the cosh.

Elsewhere, investment platform AJ Bell was sharply lower after fund manager Invesco sold a 7.6% stake in the company.

Transport operator Go-Ahead lost ground as it warned that full-year operating profit will fall short of consensus expectations due to the pandemic.

On the upside, luxury fashion brand Burberry rallied despite pulling its final dividend and saying it took a £241m hit as a result of the virus outbreak.

Future was also on the rise after it said operating profits surged in an "exceptionally strong" first half despite the Covid-19 pandemic impacting trading at the end of the period.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 5,959.19 -0.93%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 16,262.07 -0.76%
techMARK (TASX) 3,687.66 -1.02%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,441.50p 4.84%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 105.50p 2.23%
ITV (ITV) 77.68p 2.21%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 3,623.00p 1.94%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 514.20p 1.82%
DCC (DCC) 6,606.00p 1.82%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,154.50p 1.67%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,555.00p 1.59%
Carnival (CCL) 995.00p 1.57%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 188.55p 1.53%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Prudential (PRU) 1,040.00p -6.68%
Centrica (CNA) 34.44p -5.62%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 195.00p -5.39%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 878.20p -4.75%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,366.00p -4.13%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 383.60p -3.84%
SSE (SSE) 1,160.50p -3.65%
National Grid (NG.) 884.20p -2.73%
Evraz (EVR) 258.10p -2.31%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,564.80p -2.29%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Future (FUTR) 1,168.00p 6.96%
Trainline (TRN) 514.50p 3.69%
IP Group (IPO) 59.80p 3.28%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 476.00p 2.37%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 177.85p 2.30%
Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 71.50p 2.14%
Avast (AVST) 489.40p 2.00%
Coats Group (COA) 48.45p 1.89%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 301.90p 1.89%
Biffa (BIFF) 228.00p 1.79%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

AJ Bell (AJB) 387.00p -13.23%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,089.00p -11.39%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 238.00p -6.67%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 35.14p -5.03%
Assura (AGR) 74.50p -4.73%
PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 1,035.00p -4.61%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 64.40p -4.45%
Spectris (SXS) 2,573.00p -4.31%
WH Smith (SMWH) 953.50p -4.17%
Investec (INVP) 148.10p -3.99%

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