The UK’s major shares fell in early trade on Friday as data showed that UK borrowing hit record levels.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 lost 0.7% to 6,730.79 at 9am with industrial, oil tech and transport sectors posting hefty losses. The mid-cap FTSE 250, which is a little better aligned to the UK economy, also fell, down 0.5% to 21,455.37.

Among the fallers, International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) shed 2% to 211.2p as the British Airways-owner confirmed that it is thinking of selling its flagship headquarters near Heathrow Airport. The cash-strapped airline plans a mix of home and office working going forward.

Public sector borrowing reached £19.1 billion last month, although it missed consensus forecast of £21 billion. It was the highest February borrowing figure on record since the Office for National Statistics started keeping count in 1993.

LOCKDOWN LOSSES FOR PUBS OPERATOR

Pub group JD Wetherspoon (JDW) shed 1.4% to £13.02 as it announced a pre-tax loss of £68.0 million for the half-year ended 24 January, following the government imposed restrictions which forced the company to shutter its pubs.

Chairman Tim Martin said it was 'disappointing' that the regulations implemented, 'appear to have had no real basis in common sense or science'.

Scottish Mortgage Trust (SMT) fell 1.6% to £11.32 on the news that joint portfolio manager James Anderson will step down in April 2022, when he is due to retire as a partner at Baillie Gifford.

The equities investor confirmed that joint portfolio manager Tom Slater will continue as lead portfolio manager when Anderson retires and Lawrence Burns, also a partner at Baillie Gifford, will become deputy portfolio manager.

Barclays (BARC) lost 1.1% to 181.32p as it commenced its previously announced share buy-back programme of up to £700 million shares.

ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKET

Oxford Biomedica (OXB) was 1.4% lower to £10.07 after announcing Sanofi's decision to terminate the collaboration and license agreement in the field of haemophilia gene therapy.

The company said it will have a 'negligible' impact on revenue.

UK house builder Taylor Wimpey (TW.) drifted 0.9% to 183.1p on the news that the Competitions and Mergers Authority had confirmed in a letter that its leasehold investigation has moved to the 'formal consultation' stage.

Engineering and industrial software company Aveva (AVV) nudged 0.2% lower at £34.05 following the news it has completed the acquisition of OSIsoft.

Premier Inn hotel owner Whitbread (WTB) has lost 1.7% to £33.64 after it announced that group HR director Louise Smalley will retire from the board on 31 August 2021.

Financial services firm Sanne (SNN) nudged up 0.2% to 575p after the alternative asset and corporate services provider reported 'strong profit growth' in 2020, helping net revenue to reach £169.7 million.

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Issue Date: 19 Mar 2021