London stocks dip as coronavirus damage mounts

FILE PHOTO: A street cleaning operative walks past the London Stock Exchange Group building in the City of London financial district, whilst British stocks tumble as investors fear that the coronavirus outbreak could stall the global economy, in London, Britain, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

(Reuters) – UK stocks slipped on Wednesday as another round of gloomy quarterly earnings reports underlined the business damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, with investors also wary of growing U.S-China tensions over the origin of the coronavirus.

ITV (ITV.L), Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, fell 0.8% after saying ad revenue plunged 42% in April and that it could not issue a forecast for the rest of the year.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE fell 0.1%, with oil majors BP Plc (BP.L) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) tracking a slide in oil prices. The domestically focussed midcap index .FTMC dipped 0.2%. [O/R]

The blue-chip FTSE 100 kicked off May on a dour note last week following a strong rebound in April, as investors feared the halt in business activity due to sweeping lockdown measures had pushed the global economy into a deep recession.

Medical products maker Smith+Nephew (SN.L) said sales in April nearly halved as more patients delayed elective surgeries such as hip replacements. Its shares rose 0.2% in early trading.

On the bright side, a 1.7% gain for AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) boosted the healthcare index .FTNMX4570 as the drugmaker won U.S. approval for its treatment to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalisation for heart failure in certain patients.

Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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