London open: Stocks fall on downbeat Asian cues; Burberry under pressure
London stocks fell in early trade on Tuesday, taking their cue from a downbeat Asian session amid worries about coronavirus and after Moody’s downgraded Hong Kong’s credit rating, as investors eyed the release of key UK jobs data.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 1% at 7,575.96, while the pound was flat against the dollar at 1.3006.
Equity markets in Asia slid after Moody’s downgraded its rating on Hong Kong to Aa2 from Aa3 and cut the outlook to negative from stable following months of pro-democracy protests. In addition, concerns about the coronavirus added to the downbeat mood after China confirmed that it can spread between humans.
On home shores, all eyes will be on the release of the ILO unemployment rate, claimant count and average earnings, all due at 0930 GMT.
London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler said: "GBPUSD has been stubbornly clinging onto $1.30 despite a series of disappointing economic data, including the longest run of retail sales declines on record.
"The unemployment figures are one of the last major datapoints before Bank of England decision next week. If cracks show up in the UK labour market, we suspect that might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back on a January rate cut."
In equity markets, Burberry was under the cosh, along with the wider European luxury sector, amid fears about the impact of coronavirus. Burberry’s third-quarter trading update is due on Wednesday.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "It’s all about concerns that this virus will hit growth in China and could spread to Hong Kong. Investors worry about Chinese consumer confidence being hit - if we’re talking a SARS-like event then it will keep shoppers in their homes and away from stores. And that is not even considering the impact on tourism, which particularly in the case of HK would be a factor weighing on luxury sales."
Online trading platform IG Group lost ground as it reiterated its medium-term financial targets but posted a drop in interim trading revenue and profit and announced the departure of its chief financial officer.
Paper and packaging manufacturer Mondi was weaker after a downgrade to ‘neutral’ at JPMorgan.
On the upside, easyJet flew higher as the budget airline forecast a rise in first-half revenue per seat to "mid to high single digits" after a strong start to 2020 and lower capacity levels from competitors. It also said it expected a narrower first-half headline pre-tax loss compared with 2019's £275m. Total revenue for the quarter to December 31 rose 9.9% to £1.43bn from the same period a year a year ago.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: "easyJet has started its new year in fine fettle, with an ongoing focus on costs and increased revenues propelling performance."
Dixons Carphone was in the green as it reported a mixed performance over the festive period, with a rise in electricals revenue but a drop in mobile sales, and said it was on course to deliver on its full-year expectations.
FTSE 100 - Risers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,495.00p 3.10%
Kingfisher (KGF) 212.50p 0.24%
BT Group (BT.A) 181.12p 0.15%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,404.00p 0.08%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 155.12p 0.08%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,260.50p 0.00%
Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 8,976.00p 0.00%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 214.10p -0.14%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 301.50p -0.23%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,930.50p -0.23%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Evraz (EVR) 412.40p -3.24%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,206.00p -3.12%
NMC Health (NMC) 1,458.50p -2.77%
Informa (INF) 834.60p -2.66%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 640.80p -2.50%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 953.40p -2.34%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 684.20p -2.17%
Pearson (PSON) 576.40p -2.07%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,586.50p -1.94%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 581.50p -1.84%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 149.80p 5.16%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 390.00p 3.17%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,090.00p 1.87%
SSP Group (SSPG) 676.00p 1.81%
IntegraFin Holding (IHP) 460.00p 1.10%
Softcat (SCT) 1,251.00p 0.97%
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 927.60p 0.94%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 234.00p 0.86%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 3,400.00p 0.59%
LXI Reit (LXI) 136.00p 0.59%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Vivo Energy (VVO) 114.00p -3.23%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 537.00p -3.21%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 245.50p -2.96%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,409.50p -2.79%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 394.00p -2.48%
Essentra (ESNT) 417.20p -2.43%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 875.00p -2.40%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 196.20p -2.39%
Genus (GNS) 3,020.00p -2.33%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 278.50p -2.28%