The UK’s major stocks fell sharply on Tuesday following a sharp sell-off in Asia overnight as investors worry about the intensifying crackdown on technology companies by Chinese authorities.
The benchmark FTSE 100 lost 1.15% at 6,944.5 with leisure, food and miners dragging on the market mood while poorly received updates from Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) and online greeting cards seller Moonpig (MOON) saw sharp share price falls.
Mid-caps were also under selling pressure, the FTSE 250 falling 0.8 to 22,758.64.
The declines follow a sharp downturn in Asian markets as trading ended, with the Shanghai Composite Index closing 2.5% lower and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropping around 5% as Chinese regulators continue to show their teeth to the tech space and data collection and use.
Scottish Mortgage Trust (SMT), one of Britain’s biggest investors in innovative giants such as Tencent and Alibaba, was caught in the fall-out from Beijing’s assault as its shares fell 2% to £13.06.
There were odd bright spots, notably speciality chemicals group Croda (CRDA), which saw its shares rally 5% £82 after it said full year profits were now expected to be significantly ahead of expectations. This follows a 39% rise in half year revenues and a 42% increase in operating profits, with business boosted by its contract to supply vaccine maker Pfizer.
Reckitt Benckiser, which sells Nurofen pain killer and Dettol cleaner, tumbled 10% to £56.10, having swung to a £1.94 billion first-half loss on lower revenue and a write-down on Chinese infant formula assets.
More concerningly, the company stoked fears of rising supply constraints in the economy by warning that its margins would fall for the full year. It held is interim dividend steady at 73p per share.
Online greeting cards and gifts group Moonpig slumped 6% to 399.4p, despite posting a 3.4% rise in pre-tax annual profit.
Moonpig’s underlying profit jumped 41% after its revenue more than doubled, though it forecast revenue to fall substantially this year as conditions normalise following the end of lockdowns.
Banking group Virgin Money (VMED) fell 0.7% to 191.6p, even as it upgraded its annual margin guidance after it boosted mortgage lending volumes in the third quarter.
Virgin Money UK forecast its net interest margin for the full year to be 'modestly ahead' of 160 basis points, having risen to 168 basis points in the third quarter.
Convenience foods manufacturer Greencore (GNC) gained 2.6% to 132.2p after upgrading its annual revenue forecast following a strong third quarter.
Greencore now expects to generate a fiscal 2021 adjusted operating profit outturn of between £36 million and £40 million, versus previous guidance of £32.5 million.
ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKET
Bus and train company Firstgroup (FGP) advanced 2.1% to 82.6p as it swung to a £115.8 million annual profit, after cost cuts and government subsidies helped buffer it from a pandemic-led slump in demand.
Looking ahead, Firstgroup said it expected volumes to recover to between 80%-to-90% of pre-pandemic levels during the first year after social distancing restrictions on public transport end.
Gambling technology group Playtech (PTEC) slipped 0.7% to 378.2p on announcing that it performed in line with expectations in the first half, as online strength offset weakness at its Italian retail business.
Daily Mirror publisher Reach (RCH) jumped 8% to 337.35, despite posting a loss owing to a large tax bill, after it saw its first-half revenue rise 4%.
Reach also reinstated its interim dividend at 2.75p per share.
Door and window components supplier Tyman (TYMN) shed 0.4% to 448p even as it reinstated its interim dividend after its first-half profit more than doubled on a rebound in sales.
Tyman declared a first-half dividend of 4p per share, up 4% compared to 2019.