MARKET REPORT: Coronavirus fears infect stocks around the globe


Fresh fears about the growing severity of the coronavirus outbreak tore through global stock markets yesterday.

Equity markets in Asia, Europe and the US tumbled as the death toll from the outbreak hit 170 in China and the first person-to-person transmission was confirmed in America.

More than 7,700 cases have been confirmed in China, while the infection has spread to at least 15 other countries.

More than 7,700 cases  of the coronavirus have been confirmed in China, while the infection has spread to at least 15 other countries

More than 7,700 cases  of the coronavirus have been confirmed in China, while the infection has spread to at least 15 other countries

Major Asian stock markets slid into the red – with Japan’s Nikkei closing 1.7 per cent lower and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng falling 2.6 per cent.

The Chinese markets remain closed. And over on Wall Street last night, the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all fell between 0.5 per cent and 1 per cent in early trading.

Nestled between the two timezones, London’s premier indexes the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 were hit with many of the same concerns that the rapidly spreading virus could take a financial toll on China’s already fragile economy, which could drag down global growth and trigger a recession. 

Neil Wilson, an analyst at Markets.com, said: ‘Fears of a pandemic may be over-egging the pudding, but there is again a clear risk-off mood in the market.’

Stock Watch – Aukett Swanke

 

Architecture and interior design group Aukett Swanke bounced back into profit as a cost-cutting drive paid off.

The award-winning firm made £292,000 in the year to September 2019 – up from a loss of £2.54million the year before – as revenues rose 7.7 per cent to £15.5million. 

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It recently sold its loss-making business in Moscow and is making a profit in its three other regions, the UK, Middle East and Europe.

Shares in AIM-listed Aukett Swanke rocketed 23.1 per cent, or 0.45p, to 2.4p.

The Footsie ended 1.4 per cent lower, down 101.61 points, at 7381.96 The FTSE 250, which is less exposed to global events, gave up 0.82 per cent, or 277.11 points, to finish at 21291.88.

London-listed Carnival fell 5.1 per cent, or 170p, to 3168p, after one of its cruise ships was put into lockdown in an Italian port amid fears that two of the roughly 7,000 passengers could be carrying the virus.

As coronavirus fears knocked the price of oil 2 per cent lower to $58.69 a barrel, shares in BP sagged 2.3 per cent, or 10.8p, to 467.1p and rival Shell lost 3.7 per cent, or 78.5p, to end at 2046p, not helped by the energy giant also releasing disappointing figures.

Shares in Britain’s largest wealth manager St James’s Place inched up 1.6 per cent, or 18.5p, to 1160p, after its advisers brought in £2.4billion more from clients between October and December.

This left it overseeing funds worth a record £117billion by the end of a tricky year for the firm, which had to navigate Brexit and election storms as well as questions over its work culture and the perks it handed to staff.

Production at Russian steel maker Evraz rose to 3.4m tonnes in the final three months of 2019, 2.1 per cent higher than the previous quarter. 

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This was helped by more steel being produced at a Siberian plant, which had a round of repairs in the summer, and it made 6.1 per cent more steel overall in 2019 than 2018 – a total of 13.8m tonnes.

Although the FTSE 100-listed group made early gains, these reversed by the close with shares finishing down 0.3 per cent, or 1p, to 368.4p. 

Over on the FTSE 250, fellow metals group Centamin advanced 5.5 per cent, or 7.05p, to 135.7p as 2019 revenue jumped 9.1 per cent to £506million and production surged in the final three months of the year.

The bullish figures come weeks after it rebuffed a takeover approach by Canadian rival Endeavour Mining, which Centamin insisted would not be good value for shareholders.

Among the small-caps, shopping centre landlord Intu Properties, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre, sank 6.7 per cent, or 1.26p, to 17.71p after brokers at Citigroup cut its target price from 53p to a mere 1p per share and kept a ‘sell’ rating on its stock.

London-focused estate agent Foxtons blamed uncertainty surrounding the general election and Brexit for shaving 4 per cent off revenues last year.

Turnover came in at £107million in 2019, while the group said it took a £2.7million hit from a ban on letting fees paid by tenants which was introduced in June. Shares in the group rose 0.7 per cent, or 0.6p, to 82.2p.

 

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