Oil and commodity stocks plunge as Covid-19 drives sell-off

Oil and commodity stocks bore the brunt as the FTSE 100 plunged again as the global markets resumed their Covid-19-driven frenzy.

The FTSE 100 closed 242.88 points higher at 6,462.55 at the end of trading on Friday.

London’s top flight plummeted back to its lowest level since July 2016 while the German Dax also fell below its lows from the end of last month.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “As yields plunge across the world the coronavirus has effected a stampede for the exits in the fashion of someone shouting fire in a crowded theatre, as havens surge and yields plunge.

“In a month where airline, travel and banking stocks had already had a bad start, we’ve seen these declines accelerate this week.

“There seems to be an increasingly inverse relationship between the rise in new cases of coronavirus being reported, to the speed of the falls in the share prices of stocks in these sectors, as fears about further sharp increases in cases weigh on investor sentiment.”

The European markets all slid heavily into the red as traders lost their nerve on the continued spread of the virus.

The German Dax decreased by 3.37% while the French Cac moved 4.14% lower.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones opened lower as it handed back some of the major gains it racked up in Thursday’s session.

Meanwhile, sterling made gains against the sliding dollar after the Fed’s rate cut earlier this week projected weakness in the country’s economy.

The value of the pound rose 0.29% versus the US dollar at 1.299 and was down 0.28% against the euro at 1.149.

In company news, shares in Cineworld dived after the cinema chain said coronavirus has not yet dampened demand as it sought to calm fears after the release of the new James Bond film was delayed due to the outbreak.

Investors were not convinced by the update, as the firm assured that it has not seen any significant impact on bookings yet and continues to see good admission figures across all its markets.

Cineworld closed 10.4p lower at 111.1p at the close of play on Friday.

Elsewhere, Premier Inn owner Whitbread also slipped lower on concerns over a drop off in business bookings, as we look towards the spring and summer months. Shares slipped 128p to 3,501p.

Cruise liner business Carnival also closed lower, dropping to a near-seven year low after the US reported its second fatality from the Grand Princess cruise ship in San Francisco.

Shares in the company fell 151.5p to 1,981.5p at the end of trading.

The price of oil plummeted into the red despite Opec’s plan to cut production by 1.5 million barrels per day

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil decreased 7.9% to 46.06 US dollars.

There were only four risers in the FTSE 100. They were IAG up 8.5p at 431.6p; Rolls-Royce up 1p at 588.2p; Polymetal up 2p at 1,298p and Morrison’s up 0.1p at 185.3p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Anglo American down 160.2p at 1,681.2p; Smiths Group down 120p at 1,410p; Centrica down 5.74p at 69.76p; Carnival down 151.5p at 1,981.5p and Evraz down 20.2p at 269.1p.