(Reuters) – London stocks fell on Thursday as a stalemate over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union and surging COVID-19 infections sparked fears of more damage to an already faltering domestic economic recovery.
The blue-chip index slipped 0.9%, with home improvement retailer Kingfisher Plc tumbling 3.9% after saying fourth-quarter underlying sales growth has slowed so far.
Cyclicals such as banks, energy, and mining stocks were among the biggest drags to the index, after posting strong gains so far this week.
The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index lost 0.6%, with Cineworld Group Plc slumping 11.2%, after a report said the cinema chain is considering a company voluntary arrangement — an insolvency process used to cut costs.
After jumping more than 13% in the last two weeks on optimism over a vaccine, the FTSE 100 index retreated this week on concerns that swiftly accelerating COVID-19 cases might derail a nascent economic recovery.
“In the near term, we will continue to struggle with when and how much damage will occur before this return to pre-pandemic life.” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.
“As long as this uncertainty prevails, investors should expect bumps along this road to recovery, especially since markets have already priced much of the good news.”
The Brexit trade deal was in focus after a report said Europe’s leaders are set to demand no-deal plans be published amid fears that trade negotiations are dragging, and that an agreement could be finalised as early as Monday.
Outsourcer Mitie Group slipped 5.7% after it posted a 35% fall in first-half profit and scrapped its interim dividend.
Online trading platform CMC Markets gained 1.6% after posting a record half-yearly net operating income on COVID-19-related volatility.
Royal Mail Group jumped 7.2% after raising its annual revenue forecast due to online shopping boost.