LONDON: London stocks slipped on Thursday, as uncertainty over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union and surging Covid-19 infections sparked fears of more damage to an already-faltering domestic economic recovery. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed 0.8% lower, with chemicals maker Johnson Matthey Plc tumbling 5.6% after it posted a near 90% slump in half-year profit and refrained from providing an outlook for 2021.
Cyclicals such as banks, energy, and mining stocks were among the biggest drags to the index. The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index ended 1% lower. After jumping more than 13% in the last two weeks on optimism over a vaccine, the FTSE 100 index retreated this week on concerns that swiftly accelerating Covid-19 cases and a stalemate over a Brexit deal might derail a nascent economic recovery. Outsourcer Mitie Group slipped 6.6%, after it posted a 35% fall in first-half profit and scrapped its interim dividend.
Home improvement retailer Kingfisher Plc fell 2.7% after saying fourth-quarter underlying sales growth has slowed so far. Royal Mail Plc jumped 3.3%, after raising its annual revenue forecast due to an online shopping boost.
"The reality has hit home for investors that we are seeing greater disruptions especially in areas of Europe, which partly was to be expected, given that we are going into winter," said Azad Zangana, senior European economist and strategist at Schroders.