London stocks hammered as GDP shrinks, retail sales plunge

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 stock markets fell on Wednesday as data showed a nationwide shutdown crushed retail sales in April, while the economy shrank by a record 5.8% in March in further evidence of the business damage caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The retail index .FTNMX5370 tumbled 1.2% after surveys showed British retail spending plunged by nearly a fifth and a broader measure of consumer spending fell by more than a third in April.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE was down 1%, snapping a five-day winning streak and wiping out most of the gains it made this month on hopes that an easing in restrictions would revive business activity.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC also shed 1%, with travel stocks .FTNMX5750 plummeting again after a warning from European travel company TUI (TUIGn.DE) about thousands of job cuts to ride out a virtual halt in global travel.

Oil and gas producer Premier Oil (PMO.L) slumped 6.2% after saying it expects to be free cash flow neutral this year following a crash in oil prices.

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

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