FTSE falls back below 7,000 mark as global virus fears rumble on

·3 min read

London’s top index managed to pull back from steep losses on Tuesday morning on a day when it pushed below the 7,000-point mark for the first time in almost two months.

The index was buoyed by its miners, but its travel stocks continued to struggle as worries over a new strain of the Covid-19 virus continue.

“Investors were spooked early on by an interview with the FT given by Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel, that wasn’t particularly different from several others given over the last 24 hours,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

“The focus appears to have been on the remarks that he sees a material drop in the efficacy of the vaccine, and that according to him, various scientists have said it’s “not going to be good”.

He added: “On the other side of the argument, Oxford University was far less contentious, saying that there is no evidence yet that vaccines won’t protect against severe disease from Omicron, and more testing needed to be done, which is surely the main point.”

Early in the day the FTSE hit as low as 6,990 points, but recovered and ended the day at 7059.45, a drop of 0.7%.

It reverses some, but not all, the gains made by the index on Monday as it bounced back from a bruising session on Friday.

But by far the biggest loser on Tuesday had nothing to do with the pandemic.

JD Sports shares dropped 80% in value, after the company decided to split each share into five pieces.

So while the per share value of JD dropped significantly, the company’s overall value stayed the same, more or less.

In New York the S&P 500 and Dow Jones were both trading down 1.8% when markets closed in Europe.

In Germany the Dax index dropped 0.9%, while Paris’s Cac 40 lost 0.6%.

Sterling gained 0.1% against the greenback and could buy 1.3244 dollars by the end of the day.

Against the euro it dropped 0.2%, buying 1.1737.

In company news, the online betting company 888 had a bruising session, as it revealed that a £2.2 billion takeover of William Hill’s European business will complete in the first three months of next year.

The deal was announced in September and will see 888 gain control over 1,400 betting shops.

Yet shares in the first dropped 4.2% following the news.

EasyJet also saw its shares in the red by 1.7% after telling shareholders that the new Covid variant is already impacting demand.

Winter bookings have started to weaken, the firm said after announcing a £1 billion loss for the year.

Pub company Marstons was deeper in the red, down by 6.5%, despite trying to reassure shareholders that it has not yet been hit by the new variant and is positive about Christmas.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Anglo American, up 88.5p to 2,772p, BHP, up 47.5p to 2,066.5p, Polymetal, up 30.5p to 1,,372p, Aviva, up 6.8p to 385p, and Taylor Wimpey, up 2.4p to 157.9p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were JD Sports, down 919p to 222.9p, United Utilities, down 368p to 6,502p, Sainsbury’s, down 13p to 276.6p, Entain, down 77p to 1,669p, and Compass Group, down 60p to 1,462.5p.

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