UPDATE 2-Oil shock, dire forecasts knock UK's FTSE 100 lower

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
UPDATE 2-Oil shock, dire forecasts knock UK's FTSE 100 lower
Credit: © Reuters.

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* Oil price crash dampens mood globally

* UK job growth slows as COVID-19 begins to hit

* AB Foods drops on dividend cut (Updates with market closing)

By Devik Jain and Sruthi Shankar

April 21 (Reuters) - Plunging oil prices hit Britain's commodity-heavy FTSE 100 on Tuesday, heightening concerns about the economic damage from the new coronavirus.

Oil majors BP Plc BP.L and Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L fell 3% and 2.5% respectively, with banking and mining stocks also contributing to a 3% drop for the FTSE 100 index .FTSE .

Europe's biggest bank, HSBC HSBA.L , cut a number of top management roles in its investment bank despite a wider firing freeze, according to memos seen by Reuters. Its shares were down 4.5%. were on edge after U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 for delivery in May fell for the first time on Monday to as much as negative $40 a barrel, with sinking oil demand since the start of the coronavirus outbreak squeezing storage facilities. O/R

While that trade was seen as anomalous, steep declines in both Brent LCoc1 and U.S. crude oil futures expiring in June on Tuesday fuelled further worries of a demand shock.

"It's a sensible reaction (from equity markets). It's fairly clear the technical conditions that drove the move yesterday," said Ian Williams (NYSE: WMB ), economics & strategy research analyst at Peel Hunt. "But demand is not going to come back anytime soon. We could get a repeat performance next month."

With billions of dollars injected into Britain's economy through fiscal and monetary measures, the FTSE 100 has recovered about 15% from its mid-March low but still stands more than 26% down from its January peak.

With the earnings season gathering pace, investors are on the lookout for any fresh signs of pain as business in Europe prepares to post its steepest profit decline since the financial crisis of 2008.

Analysts are forecasting a 22% drop in earnings for companies listed on the pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX , according to Refinitiv data.

The world's largest listed miner, BHP Group BHP.AX , BHPB.L fell 6.4% after it warned that global steel production excluding China could drop sharply this year because of the pandemic. in fellow miners Anglo American AAL.L and Glencore GLEN.L dropped about 6%, also hit by weak commodity prices, while Russian steelmaker Evraz Plc EVRE.L dropped 11.2% to the bottom of the FTSE 100.

John Lewis Partnership, which owns the Waitrose supermarket business, said sales at its department stores could decline by around 35% this year in a worst-case scenario because of the coronavirus crisis. Associated British Foods ABF.L declined 6.1% after it scrapped its interim dividend payout and said it could not provide a full-year earnings forecast. domestically oriented FTSE 250 midcap index .FTMC fell 2.7% amid concerns Britain was set to be among the European countries hit worst by the virus. released earlier showed British job growth slowed in March but unemployment benefit claims rose by 12,100 last month, far below the 172,500 forecast by economists.

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