Resurgent Covid fears and a strong pound see FTSE drop 2%

Tue, 20th Apr 2021

The FTSE 100 was down 2% to 6,859.87 by the close on Tuesday as stronger sterling and resurgent concerns about the course of the Covid-19 pandemic globally put a dampener on investor sentiment. Tobacco stocks remained weak amid reports of US regulatory pressure. On Wall Street the S&P 500 was down 0.9% at 4,128.07 by 4.30pm UK time. Sugar-to-clothes retailer Associated British Foods fell 5.7% to £23.21 having resumed its dividend payment, though at a lower rate, after lockdowns hurt budget fashion chain Primark. The company's adjusted pre-tax profit for the 24 weeks to 27 February slumped 50% to £319 million and included a 90% drop in adjusted operating profit at Primark. AB Foods declared an interim dividend of 6.2p per share, down from 12.05p year-on-year. Mining company Rio Tinto fell 2.1% to £59.63 after it reported a drop in first-quarter iron ore production, citing wet weather, but maintained its annual guidance ranges for all of its products. Output of the key steel-making ingredient from the group's Pilbara operations in Australia in the three months through March fell to 76.4 million tons, down 2% year-on-year and 11% compared to the fourth quarter of 2020. FTSE 250 chemicals firm saw big gains from earlier in the day on takeover reports wiped out as US rival Innospecs confirmed its interest had been rebuffed a deal was no longer under active consideration. By the close Elementis was down 0.7% at 134.8p, having earlier reached highs of 165.8p. Cybersecurity provider Avast rallied 2.4% to 483p as it lifted its annual revenue guidance citing continued demand in the first quarter. For the full year 2021, Avast now expected to deliver at the upper end of its 6-to-8% organic revenue growth guidance, with a broadly flat operating margin. Wealth manager Jupiter Fund Management shed 2% to 272.4p, having reported an uptick in first-quarter assets under management, though with net outflows in the period of £0.8 billion. Price comparison service Moneysupermarket fell 3.5% to 261.2p as its first-quarter revenue dropped 20%. Moneysupermarket, however, said it expected its full-year results to be in line with market expectations. Russia-focused miner Petropavlovsk firmed 1.1% to 27.1p after it reported a 49% drop in first-quarter production but stuck to its annual output guidance. Gem miner Petra Diamonds climbed 5.3% to 1.58p, having reported a 16% rise in third-quarter revenue, thanks to higher diamond prices, offsetting a 48% fall in production. Cosmetics company Warpaint London rallied 13.8% to 122.9p on announcing that it had continued to experience improved trading conditions in the first quarter of 2021, with sales and margins both on the rise. Story provided by

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