Markets in the US and Europe moved lower on Thursday as technology-led declines continued on disappointment at the US Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep rates low for an extended period.
In the UK, the Bank of England echoed the Fed by keeping interest rates near zero and warning of an ‘unusually uncertain’ recovery ahead.
The FTSE 100 ended the session 0.47% lower at 6,049.92, sentiment lifted by the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen. She said she is ‘convinced’ that a trade deal between the EU and UK is still a possibility, although Joe Biden stoked uncertainty with his comments he would only negotiate a trade deal with the UK if it fully respects the Good Friday Agreement.
In company news, gambling software maker Playtech (PTEC) crashed 6.4% to 366.5p after it posted a lower first-half profit, hit by betting shop closures and sports events cancellations due to coronavirus-led curbs.
British clothing retailer Next (NXT) was among the leading blue-chip winners, up 4.2% to £64.26 after it raised its profit outlook for the second time in two months as it reported strong recent trading.
Online trading platform IG Group (IGG) reported a surge in first-quarter revenue as the coronavirus crisis and fears of its impact on the global economy continued to drive up volatility and trading volumes on financial markets.
IG shares rallied 6% to 837p, heading the mid-caps leader board.
Security company G4S (G4S) completed the sale of its conventional cash businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for around £49 million. The sale was completed on 14 September, and the company said it had received approximately 83% of the proceeds.
G4S shares finished up 4.3% to 190.9p.
Wealth manager Brooks Macdonald (BRK) reported that annual profit rose by more than a quarter on higher margins and increased funds under management.
For the year ended 30 June 2020, pre-tax profit rose 26.6% to £10 million as revenue increased 2.7% to a record £108.6 million.
Shares were down 1.4% to £17.50.
Residential property business Grainger (GRI) said Ealing Council had approved a plan to develop new homes for rent in Southall, London.
The scheme, by Connected Living London - the formal partnership between Grainger and Transport for London - will deliver 460 new homes, including 40% affordable housing, across five buildings.
Despite this, shares were down 0.4% to 314.4p.
Biotech company Oxford Biomedica (OXB) increased its revenue in the first half of 2020 by 6%.
Bioprocessing and commercial development were particularly strong, posting revenues of £23.4 million, up by 24%. The company’s shares were up by 1.4% to 847p.
Food packing business Hilton Food (HFG) upped its dividend after reporting that profit increased by more than a fifth in the first half of its fiscal year, led by increased revenue on higher volume growth.
Hilton shares moved 1.7% higher to £12.12.
Biotechnology company Destiny Pharma (DEST:AIM) reported wider losses on higher costs in the first half of the year. For the half-year ended 30 June 2020, pre-tax losses widened to £2.9 million from £2.4 million on-year.
Despite the losses, the company’s shares closed 8.6% up at 63p.