UK stocks opened on the back foot, following the biggest slide in China stocks in eight months on continued fears over the spread of the new flu-like coronavirus. Millions of Chinese are expected to this weekend travel for the Lunar New Year.

The FTSE 100 was 0.3% lower at 7,535 points while the FTSE 250 was also off 0.3% to 21,669 points. Oil and resource stocks were weak while banks and consumer staples were positive.

Online fashion retailer ASOS (ASC:AIM) reported record trading over black Friday which contributed to a 20% rise in revenues to £1.1bn for the four months to 31 December, beating analyst expectations which were pegged at 15%. The shares responded with a 11% jump to £33.5p.

Efforts to ramp up strong customer momentum resulted in a 23% rise in visits on-year and 1.4m increase in active customers. The company said its outlook remained unchanged and it was on track with its plans for 2020.

At the other end of the performance spectrum were shares in Mothercare (MTC), off 10% to 14.9p following a reshuffling of the senior management with chief executive Mark Newton-Jones stepping down, and finance chief Gyn Hughes taking over as interim chief executive.

The company said its recapitalisation remains on track as it refocuses on international markets.

UK miner Anglo American (AAL) said that it had met its full-year production targets as platinum and palladium growth offset weakness in copper and diamonds. The shares lost 1.6% to £21.5.

Output rose 4% in the final quarter of last year, led by the continued successful ramp-up at Minas-Rio in Brazil.

In a pre-close trading statement from IT re-seller Computacenter (CCC) the company said that it expected to report record full-year revenues and profits, at the upper-end of current analyst forecasts. The shares, up 42% over the last three-months added a further 0.6% to £17.7.

Premium chocolatier Hotel Chocolat (HOTC:AIM) said that revenue grew 11% for the 13-weeks to 29 December and 14% for the 26 weeks, with trading in-line with management’s expectations.

The positive update was slightly soured by the comment that ‘the cost to deliver this growth was modestly higher due to inefficiencies in the supply chain which are being addressed in 2020’ pushing the shares down 1.7% to 420p.

Kettle safety controls supplier Strix (STX:AIM) said in a pre-close trading update that it expects to report adjusted profit after tax in-line with market expectations for the year ended 31 December 2019, lifting the shares 2.9% to 193p.

Online trading platform CMC Markets (CMCX) said that net operating income continued to outperform expectations in the third quarter, resulting in higher revenue per active client.

Against this, operating costs are expected to be moderately higher than the prior year. The shares were moderately firmer, up 0.2% to 160.8p.

Online music retailer Gear4music (G4M:AIM) sounded a strong trading update for the two months to 31 December 2019, with revenues up 7% to £30.4m.

The focus on operational efficiency and profitability paid off with gross profits up 18%, leading the company to state that 2020 profits will be ‘at least’ in line with the board’s expectations.

The shares shot up 13% to 275p.

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Issue Date: 23 Jan 2020