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18 Jan 2021 | 16:53

London close: Stocks mixed amid Covid-19 lockdown consternation

(Sharecast News) - London stocks closed in a mixed state on Monday as investors mulled the latest data out of China, with travel and leisure shares under the cosh amid concerns about the Covid-19 crisis. The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.22% at 6,720.65, while the FTSE 250 eked out gains of 0.12% to 10,639.34.

Sterling was also mixed, last trading 0.07% lower against the dollar at $1.3581, while gaining 0.02% on the euro to change hands at €1.1247.

"The current environment is not exactly upbeat as things are getting worse with respect to the lockdowns," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

"The British government has closed the air corridors, so passengers arriving from outside the UK will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test as well as self-isolating once they arrive in the country.

"Last week, Portugal implemented harsher restrictions, France introduced a curfew from 6pm, and it was reported the Berlin administration is also contemplating a curfew."

Madden noted that China's localised lockdowns were increasing too, adding that tighter restrictions would likely lead to worse economic pain.

"Dr Michael Ryan, the WHO emergencies chief, cautioned that the coronavirus will claim 100,000 lives per week 'very soon'.

"Governments won't want to be presiding over such numbers so it is likely that things will get worse before they get better on the lockdown front.

"The timing of the update from Dr Ryan is bad, as the distribution of the vaccine will be slowed down due to supply constraints."

Investors were earlier digesting the latest data out of China, which showed the economy grew by 2.3% in 2020 in a sharp rebound from the coronavirus pandemic which tore through the country in the early part of the year.

The annual growth rate was the lowest since the Chinese economy shrank by 1.6% at the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, but was in stark contrast to the performance of other major economies, all of which have reported contractions as they struggle to battle the crisis.

Growth accelerated in the final quarter, with the economy expanding 6.5% year on year ahead of analysts' forecasts of 6.2%, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

It was also a marked change from the first quarter of 2020, when the economy shrank by 6.8%, in the first quarterly contraction since records began.

Retail sales grew 4.6% in December, down from 5% growth in November.

Meanwhile, industrial production was up 7.3% in December versus 7% growth the month before.

Analysts had been expecting a 5.5% jump in retail sales and a 6.9% increase in industrial production.

In equity markets, travel and leisure stocks suffered amid worries about the impact of Covid-19 after the UK closed all travel corridors until at least 15 February.

British Airways parent IAG was down 0.83%, budget airlines easyJet and Wizz Air lost 1.92% and 1.78% respectively, and tour operator TUI was 1.26% weaker..

Elsewhere, BT fell 1.53% following reports over the weekend that it is facing a class action lawsuit over claims it failed to compensate elderly customers overcharged for landlines.

Centrica lost 2.17% after it said chief financial officer Johnathan Ford has quit in the middle of a turnaround plan for the energy supplier.

Ford has stepped down with immediate effect for personal reasons, with group financial controller Kate Ringrose replacing him.

Telecommunications testing firm Spirent reversed earlier gains to close down 0.57%, even after it said full-year profits were set to be in line with expectations after a strong fourth quarter driven by work on 5G infrastructure.

On the upside, online grocer Ocado - a major beneficiary of lockdowns and restrictions - advanced 2.55%.

Animal genetics company Genus rallied 4.17% as it said profit growth for the year ending 30 June 2021 is set to be ahead of its previous expectations following a strong first-half trading performance.

Chemring was boosted 2.67%m by an upgrade to 'overweight' at Barclays, which said it is the most attractive way to play the cyber security growth theme in the UK.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,720.65 -0.22% FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,639.34 0.12% techMARK (TASX) 4,139.95 -0.23%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,579.00p 2.63% Barclays (BARC) 151.34p 1.71% NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 160.80p 1.42% JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 840.40p 1.28% Mondi (MNDI) 1,830.50p 1.16% Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,735.00p 1.11% Evraz (EVR) 506.20p 1.08% Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,273.00p 1.07% Melrose Industries (MRO) 183.75p 0.99% London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 9,224.00p 0.99%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Ferguson (FERG) 9,050.00p -2.33% Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 14,750.00p -1.83% BT Group (BT.A) 138.35p -1.77% Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,495.00p -1.77% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 104.25p -1.56% BAE Systems (BA.) 488.00p -1.53% United Utilities Group (UU.) 922.80p -1.49% Aveva Group (AVV) 3,749.00p -1.47% Pearson (PSON) 668.80p -1.36% InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,783.00p -1.34%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 1,700.40p 5.27% Tritax Big Box Reit (BBOX) 185.00p 4.99% Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 249.50p 4.83% Dixons Carphone (DC.) 125.10p 4.77% Genus (GNS) 4,492.00p 4.17% Wood Group (John) (WG.) 350.00p 3.46% Indivior (INDV) 119.20p 3.38% Cineworld Group (CINE) 67.88p 3.16% Energean (ENOG) 886.90p 3.01% Serco Group (SRP) 126.20p 2.85%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Babcock International Group (BAB) 205.30p -6.81% Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 114.10p -5.51% Just Group (JUST) 76.65p -4.19% Micro Focus International (MCRO) 411.40p -3.56% AO World (AO.) 376.00p -3.34% Sabre Insurance Group (SBRE) 276.00p -2.47% Avon Rubber (AVON) 3,470.00p -2.39% Premier Foods (PFD) 108.20p -2.35% 4Imprint Group (FOUR) 2,300.00p -2.13% Gamesys Group (GYS) 1,294.00p -2.12%
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