Banks, miners drag FTSE 100 lower; C4X Discovery shines

© Reuters. A trading screen is seen following the opening of the markets by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua at the London Stock Exchange in London

By Devik Jain

(Reuters) -London’s fell on Monday, as heavyweight banking and mining stocks slipped and exporters came under pressure from a slightly stronger pound, while shares of drug developer C4X Discovery surged after a licensing deal with Sanofi (PA:).

The blue-chip index declined 0.7% after recording its best weekly performance since early-January on Friday.

The wider banks’ index slid 1.2%, with HSBC Holdings (LON:) and Standard Chartered (LON:) being among the biggest losers.

Miners Glencore (LON:), BHP Group and Anglo American (LON:) tumbled between 1.6% and 2.5%, tracking lower metal prices. [MET/L]

The domestically focussed mid-cap edged down 0.5% even as England’s shops, pubs, gyms and hairdressers reopened after three months of strict winter lockdown.

The market also took cues from losses in Asian shares as investors remained anxious over rising COVID-19 cases globally and waited to see if U.S. earnings can justify sky-high valuations. [MKTS/GLOB]

“The beginning of the earnings season is crucial for stocks, with large U.S. banks reporting at the beginning of the week,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.

“Expectations are relatively low but what the market will likely focus on is guidance as companies now have an easier time forecasting.”

The FTSE 100 has risen 6.4% so far this year on increased vaccine rollouts and government support to lift the economy from a pandemic-driven recession. But a recent surge in global COVID-19 cases and firming bond yields have tapered sentiment.

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C4X Discovery jumped 15% after the drug developer signed an exclusive licensing deal worth up to $492.12 million with French drugmaker Sanofi to develop an oral therapy for treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Hammerson reversed course to trade 2.5% lower. The company on Monday confirmed that it was in talks for a possible sale of its retail parks portfolio to Canadian private equity player Brookfield Asset Management.

Airlines easyJet (LON:) and Ryanair Holdings fell 2.6% and 1.8%, respectively, after HSBC downgraded the stocks to “hold” from “buy”.

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