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Markets steady as UK prepares for second lockdown

Markets steady as UK prepares for second lockdown

UK markets remained steady this morning despite announcements over the weekend that the country faced a second lockdown starting later this week.

The UK’s blue chip index moved less than 0.2 per cent after opening this morning (November 2), while the FTSE 250 — more exposed to the domestic market — had fallen 1 per cent.

This was despite prime minister Boris Johnson announcing to the nation on Saturday (October 31) that the UK would be plunged into a second lockdown from Thursday (November 5).

Under new lockdown rules, pubs, bars and restaurants will be closed alongside all non-essential retail outlets.

Mixing of households will be banned, except for childcare reasons, although exercising outdoors with one person from outside your household is permitted.

Outbound international travel will be blocked while travel within the UK is “discouraged”.

In general, the government’s ‘stay at home’ message is back — the public must stay at home except for education, work, medical reasons, shopping for essentials, caring duties or exercise.

The announcement came as the UK surpassed 1m confirmed coronavirus cases, with government advisers warning the virus was “running wild”.

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Although markets have been stable this morning, the announcement follows the FTSE 100’s second worst week since the March tumbles.

The blue chip index fell 4.83 per cent last week (week commencing October 23), the worst since March’s 17 per cent weekly fall except for a week in June, where the index dropped nearly 6 per cent.

The gradual decline now leaves the FTSE at its lowest point since the end of March, at 5,568 points.

Although recovering more since the March crashes, the FTSE 250 tells a similar tale and was down 5 per cent last week.

Last week several European countries announced further rules, with France, Germany, Belgium and Greece preparing for a second lockdown while Spain and Italy increased the measures in place.

imogen.tew@ft.com

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