FTSE 100 drops to October levels as fears rise over Covid fallout | FTSE

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The FTSE 100 has recorded its worst week since late October as concerns increased about the economic fallout from tougher lockdown measures around the world.

The index of leading UK company shares ended the week down by 138 points compared with the previous week, a fall of about 2%, at 6,735, after official figures showed the British economy edged closer to a double-dip recession in November. After a strong start to the year, gaining by about 6% since the start of January, the performance was the worst weekly decline for the FTSE 100 since the last week of October as England headed for a second national lockdown.

It also comes as concerns mount over increased lockdown measures in Germany, France and China, with rising coronavirus infections denting the prospects for a rapid economic recovery at the start of 2021.

The more domestically focused FTSE 250 index, which tracks the value of the 250 biggest firms outside the FTSE 100, dropped 2.2% on the week, in its worst performance since early December.

The UK economy shrank by 2.6% in November, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday, as the second English lockdown pushed the country a step closer to a double-dip recession – defined as two recessions separated by a small gap – at the end of 2020.

Mining companies were among the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100, with Anglo American down almost 6% on Friday. Markets across Europe also ended the week lower, with Germany’s Dax losing 2% and France’s Cac down 1.9%.

With more countries imposing longer Covid restrictions to contain a resurgence in the virus before vaccines can be deployed widely enough, financial markets have slipped in recent days after soaring at the start of 2021 amid optimism that the jabs could help spark a swift economic recovery.

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Markets had also rallied in expectation of additional financial support for businesses and workers in the US from an incoming Joe Biden presidency, with expectations that this would spur faster growth in the world’s largest economy. Biden unveiled a $1.9tn (£1.4tn) coronavirus relief proposal on Thursday. However, stock markets had already risen over the course of several weeks in anticipation of the plan, and some analysts expect Republican opposition to some of the measures to reduce the final size of the stimulus package.

Russ Mould, investment director at the Manchester-based stockbroker AJ Bell, said: “Financial markets have already priced in the good news and are now starting to worry about the negative side, namely how it will be funded.

“The large scale of the proposed support measures adds fuel to the fire that taxes and interest rates will have to go up. Both have negative connotations for equities, therefore casting a cloud on the ability for stock markets to keep rallying at the same pace they have enjoyed for much of 2021.”



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