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Stock market plunges; BoS monitor; IAG; Rightmove

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London Stock Exchange

4.30pm: Sell-off in London

The FTSE 100 plunged 169 points (2.5%) to 6,483 as traders followed the Dow Jones which was down 228 points at midday. The Nasdaq fared better, gaining 174 points (1.3%) and the S&P 500 added 12 points (0.3%). 

Analysts said rising bond yields and the prospect of higher inflation spooked markets. However, some traders were also taking profits on the last trading day of the month.

Miners, which led the market higher yesterday, took the brunt of today’s sell-off.  Anglo American was down 6.13%, Glencore was off by 4.69%, Antofagasta lost 3.41%, and Rio Tinto was 4.52% lower.

British Airways and Iberia owner IAG flew 3.06% higher despite swinging to a massive €7.4bn annual operating loss.

Pets at Home rallied 2.98% as it upgraded its full-year outlook after a strong fourth quarter.

1pm: Salmond inquiry

Alex Salmond today told an inquiry at the Scottish parliament into the government’s handling of harassment complaints against him that the “failures of leadership are many and obvious”.

Full story here

8.30am: London dips

The FTSE 100 escaped the fall-out from Wall Street and Asia (see below) and was trading just 14.8 points lower at 6,637.20.

Bank of Scotland monitor

Business confidence in Scotland rose 15 points during February to -17%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking.

Companies in Scotland reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up 16 points at -11%.  When taken alongside their views of the economy, up 15 points to -22%, this gives a headline confidence reading of -17%.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

See also: Scottish Engineers concern over continuing Brexit pressures

IAG plummets

British Airways pic

International Consolidated Airlines, the owner of airlines British Airways and Iberia, posted losses of nearly £6 billion (€8bn) in 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions cut passenger revenues 75%.

The company said the number of passenger flights during the year dropped to a third of 2019’s total and fell again to 27% in the final quarter of the year as more pandemic restrictions were imposed.

For the current quarter, IAG said it expects to be running at 20% of 2019 passenger capacity but given the current uncertainty that estimate might change.

Rightmove record

The company said the UK housing market has, for the most part, shaken off pandemic-related challenges to forge an optimistic start to 2021. 

Chief executive Peter Brooks-Johnson said: “Record traffic and enquiries that followed the reopening of the market led to us sending 51 million property leads to our customers. Strong activity has continued into 2021 and we recorded our busiest ever January for traffic.”

Revenue fell 29% to £205.7m reflecting the impact of the discount support offered to our customers for the period April to September 2020.

Operating profit came in at £135.1m, down 37%, with operating margin of 66% (2019:74%).

Final dividend of 4.5p (2019: cancelled) per ordinary share; total dividend for 2020: 4.5p (2019: 2.8p) .

Markets

London Stock Exchange

The FTSE 100 was due to open just 71 points lower at 6,581, a relatively mild impact of rising bond yields and the prospect of higher inflation which forced a sharp 560 point fall in the Dow Jones industrial average and a 96 point tumble in the S&P 500.

Asian markets were also lower, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 (down 4%) and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (down 3.18%) taking a hit.

Footsie stocks may escape the worst of the fall-out because of the weakness of sterling against the dollar.

Brent crude was trading at $65.48 a barrel, down 63 cents.



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