LONDON: British shares hit a near one-month low on Thursday as energy stocks tracked commodity prices lower following virus and lockdowns-led demand worries, while the vaccine row between the European Union and AstraZeneca Plc continued to weigh.
AstraZeneca was one of the top drags to the FTSE 100 index as Britain demanded it must receive all of the COVID-19 vaccines it had ordered and paid for after the European Union asked the drugmaker on Wednesday if it could divert supplies of the Oxford-developed shots from Britain.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index fell 1.5%, with automakers and energy stocks being one of the top losers. The mid-cap index shed 1.6%.
The export-heavy FTSE 100 recorded consistent monthly gains since Novemeber, but has recently lost steam and trades flat for January, as a surge in infections and tougher restrictions hit sentiment for risk assets.
British airline easyJet fell 1.1% after warning that it would fly no more than 10% of 2019’s capacity in the Jan-March quarter, while London-listed shares of Hungarian airline Wizz Air gained 0.6% even after reporting a third-quarter loss.
Miner Anglo American slipped 0.1% after it trimmed its production outlook for diamonds in 2021, owing to operational challenges, but it kept output targets for most other metals unchanged.
“It’s a very speculative bubble of a market that has definitely led to people suggesting for a pullback,” said Keith Temperton, an equity sales trader at Forte Securities.
“So, in my view, it’s a long overdue pullback and nothing to be alarmed about particularly, but rather just an expected market reaction for London.”