The FTSE 100 closed firmly in the red on Wednesday as investors were hit with a trifecta of negative news.
Coronavirus cases in the US especially continued to climb, while reports emerged that the UK is about to give up on trying to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.
To top it all off, the US has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, over allegations of espionage and theft, a move which China says is against international law and for which it has threatened retaliation.
The UK’s leading basket of stocks closed 1%, or 62.63 points, lower to 6,207.10.
Home improvement retailer Kingfisher (KGF) soared 14.6% to 258p on forecasting a half-year adjusted profit ahead of the prior year, as demand bounced back after lockdowns eased.
Kingfisher’s like-for-like sales jumped 22% in the second quarter, though for the year to 18 July they fell 3.7%.
IT equipment retailer Computacenter (CCC) leapt 12.3% to £19.50 having reported a 'substantial' rise in annual profit, as companies shifted to remote working in the pandemic.
Third-party logistics firm Wincanton (WIN) gained 7.7% to 185p after the company revealed that underlying pre-tax profits for the year to March 2021 would be ‘significantly ahead of current market forecasts and not less than £30 million’ assuming no further impact on business volumes from Covid-19.
Chile-focused copper play Antofagasta (ANTO) dipped 0.34% to £10.33 as its production dropped in the second quarter. The miner said it expected to meet the lower end of its annual output guidance.
Mexican gold and silver miner Fresnillo (FRES) gained 9.6% to £11.71 even as it cut its annual gold production guidance, though it did maintain guidance for full year silver production.
The price of silver has surged in recent weeks as investors bet the industrial metal will be a winner in the ‘green recovery’ promised by politicians.
Bus and train operator Stagecoach (SGC) advanced 9.2% to 51.1p despite swinging to a full-year loss and scrapping its final dividend, as planned, in what it described as a ‘creditable’ performance given the circumstances.
Stagecoach said it was continuing to mull funding options, amid a cloudy outlook for the public transport sector.
Engineering company Melrose Industries (MRO) sank 14.2% to 103.3p on announcing that it wouldn't pay an interim dividend after its revenue slumped 27% in the first half.
The decision adds more dividend pain for Melrose investors, who already had to forgo last year's final dividend.
Private healthcare services group Mediclinic International (MDC) jumped 15.6% to 293.6p having experienced a continued improvement in its operating performance during June as lockdown measures were eased.
Drinks maker Britvic (BVIC) dipped 0.3% to 795p after its revenue tanked 16% in the third quarter, as lockdowns crimped demand from pubs and restaurants.
Fellow drinks group Nichols (NICL) staged an afternoon rally as it surged 9.7% to £13 after it posted a 78% drop in first-half profit, but more than doubled its interim dividend, citing a resilient cash performance.
Infection prevention product manufacturer Tristel (TSTL) dropped 9.7% to 420p, even after announcing that it expected to beat market expectations with a 21% jump in annual adjusted profit.
Tristel said the coronavirus pandemic had triggered a surge in demand for hospital disinfection products, though the demand outlook remained uncertain, including for medical device cleaning.
Developer and regeneration specialist St. Modwen Properties (SMP) shed 6.9% to 330p having swung to a first-half loss and cut its dividend, owing partly to a negative revaluation of sites in Wales.