It was an absolute bloodbath for UK shares on Friday as growth fears escalated from the spreading coronavirus outbreak, leaving markets staring down the barrel of a second straight week of losses.

Even the US Fed rate cut earlier in the weak failed to dent the negative mood. There were further hefty losses on US markets in afternoon trade with the S&P 500 making another near-3% fall to plunge below 3,000, at 2,935.72. The Dow Jones and tech heavy NASDAQ also fell dramatically.

Oil prices fell sharply, with Brent crude futures slumping 8.3% to $45.84 a barrel, while safe-haven gold continued to rally, promising its biggest weekly gain in nearly a decade. Gold was trading at $1,656.75 an ounce.

With new COVID-19 data emerging so quickly and frequently, markets look likely to sell-off particularly heavily on Friday, with investors reluctant to hold shares over the weekend when markets are closed.

The UK reported its first death from the disease, while the number of cases in the US rose to more than 200, stoking global slowdown fears and piling more pressure on the travel sector.

At the close, the UK benchmark FTSE 100 index had plunged a triple-digit 243 point, or 3.6%, to 6,462.55. The mid cap FTSE 250 fell almost as hard, losing 3% to 18,746.51.

STOCKS ON THE HOOK

The biggest loser of the day is mining giant Anglo American after the group was forced to shut down a refinery in South Africa following an explosion.

Shares in the Anglo American (AAL) tanked more than 8.7% to £16.812.

Cinemas operator Cineworld (CINE) plunged 8.5% to 111.1p after it said it could postpone capital investment and cut costs, should the coronavirus outbreak continue to worsen.

The share price fall came despite the company saying it had not yet experienced a material disease impact, having enjoyed a rise in admissions in the first two months of the year.

Outsourcing firm Capita (CPI) plunged to 20-year lows as investors continue to worry about the company's delayed turnaround.

The company's stock crashed 38% yesterday after flagging the hold-up in its strategy rethink, while plunging into the red. It reported pre-tax losses of £62.6m against profits of £272.6m in the previous year.

But the sell-off didn't end there, the stock collapsing another 11.5% on Friday to close at 68.96p.

Pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca (AZN) reversed 3.5% to £72.42 as a trial for a bladder cancer treatment failed to improve patient survival rates.

Insurer and wealth manager Aviva (AV.) fell 2.5% to 343p, on announcing it had agreed to exit Indonesia by selling its stake in PT Astra Aviva Life to joint venture partner PT Astra International, for an undisclosed sum.

SMALL CAP WRAP

Specialist bank PCF (PCF:AIM) lost its earlier gains to end flat at 30p despite its lending portfolio swelling 55% in the first five months of its financial year.

Pharmaceutical services provider Open Orphan (ORPH:AIM) reversed earlier losses to end the day up 3% at 5.95p after winning a contract from a European biotech company that could end up being worth more than £10.2m.

Concierge platform for wealthy individuals Ten Lifestyle (TENG:AIM) sunk nearly 6% to 78.25p after it warned of slowing annual revenue growth owing to the spreading coronavirus.

Student property investor GCP Student Living (GCP) fell close on 5% to 184.6p as lower valuation gains and higher finance costs weighed on its profit performance.

Investment company Murray International Trust (MYI) sunk more than 3% to £10.46 as it posted a positive annual performance that nevertheless missed its benchmark.

Touchstone Exploration (TST:AIM) shed 0.7% to 36.75p, even as its proven reserves estimate rose 6% in calendar 2019, as it added discoveries at the Ortoire blocks in Trinidad.

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Issue Date: 06 Mar 2020