UK stocks recover from three-day drop, end lower for the week

(Reuters) - British stocks recovered from three straight sessions of losses on Friday, but still ended the week lower as a continued spike in global coronavirus cases undercut risk appetite.

FILE PHOTO: A street cleaning operative walks past the London Stock Exchange Group building in the City of London financial district, whilst British stocks tumble as investors fear that the coronavirus outbreak could stall the global economy, in London, Britain, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The blue-chip FTSE 100 closed about 0.8% higher for the day, propped up by a rebound in heavyweight financial stocks. For the week, it lost about 1%.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 closed up 1.2%, while shedding 0.7% over the week.

A stimulus-led rally in UK stock markets slowed this month with economic data still signalling only a tentative revival in business activity, while a rising global infection count threatens to quash the recovery with new lockdown measures.

Data on Friday showed British shoppers returned to the high street in June, but overall numbers were much lower than normal for the time of year.

Homebuilding stocks such as Persimmon and Barratt Development were among the best performers for the week after new stimulus measures from the government looked to greatly benefit the sector, which is expected to recover later in the year.

Graphic: Weekly winners and losers on the FTSE 100 -

“While we expect government policy to stay supportive to cushion the blow from the COVID-19-induced economic slowdown, this is not a game-changing fiscal package,” UBS analysts wrote in a note.

“The savings and pent-up demand of the past three months will likely provide a larger economic boost, supporting select pockets of value such as UK stocks.”

Cardboard packaging maker DS Smith underperformed its bluechip peers for the week, bogged down by a string of price target cuts after it disappointed on dividend payments last week.

International Consolidated Airlines Group was also one of the worst weekly performers, as rising virus cases continued to weigh on travel stocks.

Brexit concerns have also crept into markets, with the European Union’s chief negotiator saying on Thursday “significant divergences” persisted in talks with Britain on their new relationship from 2021.

Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Shounak Dasgupta