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FTSE sinks 3% amid Covid chaos

FTSE sinks 3% amid Covid chaos

The FTSE 100 has tumbled nearly 3 per cent today as the UK faces stricter restrictions and travel chaos amid rising coronavirus cases.

Since opening this morning (December 21), the UK’s blue chip index has slipped 2.8 per cent while the FTSE 250 — more exposed to the domestic market — is down 3 per cent.

The news has also spooked currency markets and the pound has slipped 2.2 per cent against the dollar.

It comes after countries around the world, including France, banned travel from the UK as the number of cases continued to soar, thought to be caused by a new strain or variant of the coronavirus believed to be 70 per cent more infectious.

As part of France’s 48-hour travel ban, the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel have closed to outbound traffic, sparking fears of serious disruption in the UK.

Aviation companies led the FTSE sell-off and shares in International Consolidated Airlines (British Airways’s parent company) and Rolls Royce fell by 12 and 10 per cent respectively.

Oil stocks, which have been among the worst affected throughout the crisis, have also suffered with Shell and BP seeing a 7 per cent slide.

The news has also been a blow to financials and retail stocks, with L&G down 7 per cent, Lloyds and Natwest taking a 6 per cent hit and JD Sports and Associated British Foods among those worst hit.

Meanwhile, ‘winners’ of the crisis such as Ocado and Just Eat saw a 4 per cent rise.

Britain and the EU are to hold separate emergency meetings today to deal with the escalating crisis.

The FTSE 100 has struggled to recoup gains at the same speed as other markets since the coronavirus crisis began in March, and the market still lags 16 per cent below January levels.

On Saturday (December 19) Boris Johnson scrapped the majority of relaxations planned for the Christmas period in England and pushed areas, including London, into a new ‘Tier 4’ level with a ‘stay at home’ order.

imogen.tew@ft.com

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