UK markets were dragged lower in early trading on Thursday as gloomy results from banks and other companies gave investors reasons to pull money out of stocks despite drugs maker AstraZeneca (AZN) rising after topping analysts’ expectations on the back of strong drug sales during coronavirus-driven lockdowns.

The benchmark FTSE 100 was down 0.8% at 6,084.50 at 8.50am.

Lloyds Banking (LLOY) slumped nearly 8% in early deals to 26.19p after plunging £602 million into the red during a troubled first half to 30 June, but it is the mounting cash pile provisions being puts aside for bad debts that are the chief concern.

The bank has set aside £3.8 billion to protect against a potential wave of loan losses and warned the outlook remained highly uncertain. That was similar to Barclays (BARC) yesterday, which upped its bad debt fund to £3.7 billion, above analyst expectations.

NatWest (NWG), the former Royal Bank of Scotland, was also dragged lower, its shares declining nearly 3% to 108.28p.

AstraZeneca rose 3% to £88.705 after it beat second-quarter sales and profit estimates and backed its 2020 forecasts, helped by strong sales of a diverse product range that now includes a potential coronavirus vaccine.

BAE TOPS FTSE 100

Defence company BAE Systems (BA.) topped the FTSE 100 leader board on Thursday after resuming dividends.

Shares in BAE rallied close on 6% to 503.6p despite warning that earnings would be lower than last year after reporting a fall in profit in the first-half of the year.

Rat catcher Rentokil Initial (RTO) was also firmly higher, adding 3.5% to 568.3p as it announced first-half revenue from disinfection services of £49 million and said ongoing revenue climbed 1% to £1.3 billion despite the pandemic.

Anglo American (AAL) fell 3.5% to £19.034 as the mining giant more than halved its interim dividend after reporting a slump in profit as coronavirus-led disruptions hurt production.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 slipped 0.6%, led by the 20% plunge at Equiniti (EQN) after the financial services business swung to a loss in the first-half as income was stifled by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

For the six months to 30 June 2020, the company reported a pre-tax loss of £0.7 million compared with a profit of £11.6 million as revenue fell 11.7% to £243 million.

Equiniti shares were down 28.5p at 114.7p.

Car dealer Inchcape (INCH) also fell sharply, losing more than 9% at 439.9p, after also posting half-year losses as the Covid-19 pandemic hammers car sales in the UK.

Data on Thursday showed British car output fell by more than 40% in the first six months of 2020 to the lowest level since 1954.

ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKET

Mining group Evraz (EVR) lost close on 5% at 285.95p after it warned of uncertainty around production and sales owing to turmoil in the oil and gas markets.

RSA Insurance (RSA) fell 2% to 429.1p on the news the group achieved a first-half record for underwriting performance which saw growth in profits of 33%.

However, statutory results at the insurer were hit by Covid-19 financial market impacts.

Fund manager Man Group (EMG) fell nearly 2% to 123.4p after it reported a fall in first-half funds under management as negative investment performance and net fund outflows weighed on results.

For the six months ended 30 June, pre-tax profit halved to $55 million as funds under management fell 8% to $108.3 billion so far this year.

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Issue Date: 30 Jul 2020