London’s FTSE 100 traded 44.2 points lower at 5,436 early on Friday as doubts grew about Donald Trump’s claim that he had convinced Russia and Saudi Arabia to agree to cut oil production, which weighed on energy stocks.
Investors were also bracing for US jobs data due later Friday set to show how much the spreading coronavirus is hurting the world’s biggest economy.
Foods-to-fashion conglomerate Associated British Foods (ABF) cheapened 1.9% to £16.93 on the news its chief executive and finance director have requested to take a temporary 50% pay cut. The Primark owner is tightening its belt in anticipation of weaker-than-expected earnings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Budget carrier Ryanair (RYA) edged 0.3% higher to €8.6 despite warning annual profit would come in at the bottom end of its previous guidance range and declining to provide guidance for the new financial year, although the low-cost airline insisted it has ‘one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry’.
Ryanair said it was currently operating less than 20 daily flights and expected its fleet to remain largely grounded for at least April and May.
Online trading platform CMC Markets (CMCX) rose 3.1% to 199.6p on a positive pre-close trading update, flagging a strong final quarter of the year to March, and a large dividend upgrade from broker Shore Capital.
CMC’s full year net trading revenues of around £246m were up nearly twofold year-on-year and despite current economic uncertainty, CMC also issued a confident outlook for 2021.
Electronics component supplier XP Power (XPP) sparked up 7.2% to £26.90 after its first quarter sales rose 4% and orders jumped 34%. XP Power still decided to scrap its 2019 annual dividend as a precaution.
Cell-based therapeutics developer ReNeuron (RENE:AIM) rallied 13% to 107p as it initiated a research programme focused on the potential use of its technology as a delivery vehicle for viral vaccines, including for COVID-19.