London stocks slip from near two-week highs as Covid-19 fears weigh

People walk through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange in London.The export-laden FTSE 100 fell 1.5 per cent wiping out most of Monday's gains, while British mid-caps dropped 1 per cent, with banks leading declines. ― Reuters pic
People walk through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange in London.The export-laden FTSE 100 fell 1.5 per cent wiping out most of Monday's gains, while British mid-caps dropped 1 per cent, with banks leading declines. ― Reuters pic

LONDON, July 8 ― UK shares slipped from near two-week highs yesterday as a surge in US coronavirus cases turned investors away from riskier trades, while Halfords tumbled after a bleak profit expectation.

The motor and cycling products retailer plunged 14.1 per cent and posted its worst day in more than three months as it expects a profit scenario ranging from zero to a pretax loss of £10 million (RM53.7 million).

“The outlook is very uncertain overall, the priority is going to be keeping costs down, and customers safe, as has become a bit of a mantra across the retail sector more generally,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The export-laden FTSE 100 fell 1.5 per cent wiping out most of Monday's gains, while British mid-caps dropped 1 per cent, with banks leading declines.

“Investors are getting back to the reality of rising coronavirus cases, which is causing some caution and fear to be back following yesterday's rally,” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets in London.

Aggressive global stimulus has partly powered a rebound in UK stock markets since a coronavirus-driven crash in March, but the pace of gains has slowed in the past two months with economic figures still on shaky ground.

Data yesterday showed British house prices fell for a fourth month in a row in June, the longest run of monthly declines since 2010.

Newspaper publisher Reach tumbled 14.2 per cent, logging its worst day since late March as it said it would cut about 550 jobs — 12 per cent of its workforce — after the Covid-19 pandemic hit circulation and advertising.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread fell 5.5 per cent on reporting an 80 per cent plunge in first-quarter sales as the Covid-19 lockdown shuttered most of its hotels in Britain and Germany.

Online trading platform Plus500 rose 3.3 per cent after saying revenue in the first half nearly quadrupled. ― Reuters

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