FTSE 100 Falls on Virus Concerns, Brexit Uncertainty

London’s FTSE 100 fell on Friday after a four-day rally as concerns over surging coronavirus cases and Brexit-related uncertainty weighed, while investors awaited the outcome of a close U.S. presidential election race.

Having risen almost 0.5% in early trading, the blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.8% as pharmaceutical , retailer and industrial stocks declined.

The domestically-focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index edged 0.4% lower, with shares in James Fisher and Sons tumbling 19.4% after a disappointing trading update.

U.S. Democrat Joe Biden gained more ground on President Donald Trump in the battleground states of Georgia and Pennsylvania, hours after Trump falsely claimed the election was being “stolen” from him.

“Today it’s just awareness that the election still isn’t over especially with Trump’s speech last night,” said Connor Campbell, a London-based analyst for Spreadex.

Despite Friday’s losses, the FTSE 100 was set for its best weekly gain since early June as the British government and the Bank of England ramped up stimulus measures to support an economy facing the economic impact of a second nation-wide lockdown.

Britain reported 24,141 new cases of the coronavirus and 378 deaths on Thursday, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped Britain could return to some form of normality before Christmas if people stick to the lockdown rules.

Brexit talks were also in focus with the European Union Internal Market Commissioner saying there is a “50/50” chance of Britain and the EU securing a trade-deal.

In other company news, EasyJet Plc fell 4.9% after the airline scaled back its flying capacity for the rest of the year due to recently announced lockdowns in England, Germany and France.

Aviva Plc jumped 2.6% to the top of the FTSE 100 index after German peer Allianz SE reported an unexpected rise in quarterly net profit.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V, Aditya Soni)

Source: Reuters

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