United Kingdom

Virus fears push FTSE 100 to two-month low

4 minute read

People walk past the London Stock Exchange Group offices in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File photo

  • England's 'Freedom Day' marred by soaring cases
  • Energy, mining, financial stocks slide
  • Travel stocks hits 7-month low
  • FTSE 100 down 2.3%, FTSE 250 off 2.3%

July 19 (Reuters) - The FTSE 100 sank to a two-month low on Monday on concerns that a spike in coronavirus infections could derail a nascent economic recovery as the economy reopens.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 (.FTSE) ended 2.3% down, marking its worst session in over two months with all sectors in the red, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 (.FTMC) shed 2.3% as the rising number of fresh cases removed the optimism from the lifting of most restrictions in England. read more

With bond yields sliding, lenders (.FTNMX301010) dropped 3.5%, while declining oil, base metal and iron ore prices pushed down miners (.FTNMX551020) and energy stocks (.FTNMX601010) 3.4% and 4.4%.

"Risk aversion is firmly in place as the Delta Covid variant spread is triggering a flight to safety as global economic concerns intensify," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

The FTSE 100 has gained 5.9% so far this year, supported by low interest rates and hopes of an economic rebound, but a bigger-than-expected jump in inflation and a surge in coronavirus cases have put the export-heavy FTSE 100 on course for its fourth straight weekly decline.

Meanwhile, Bank of England interest-rate setter Jonathan Haskel said reducing stimulus was not the right option for the foreseeable future, despite rising inflation, distancing himself from last week's hawkish comments by his two colleagues. read more

Travel-related stocks, (.FTNMX405010) down 3.5%, sank to their lowest level since December 2020 as the surge in infections raised the prospect of new travel curbs.

Rising COVID-19 cases benefited online retail stocks, including Just Eat Takeaway.com and B&M European Value Retail (BMEB.L), which were among the top gainers on the FTSE 100.

Ocado (OCDO.L) slipped 1.9% after the British online supermarket and technology group's largest automated warehouse suffered a fire, halting the fulfilment of customer orders from the site. read more

By contrast, video game company Sumo Group (SUMO.L) surged 40.5% after it said Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings (0700.HK) would buy the British firm in a deal valuing it at 919 million pounds ($1.27 billion). read more

Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Barbara Lewis

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