FTSE posts worst quarter since 1987 amid virus fears despite rally

European traders were bullish as the markets were buoyed by comments suggesting the coronavirus outbreak could be starting to plateau in some regions.

Nevertheless, it was not enough to stop the FTSE posting its worst quarter since 1987.

The FTSE 100 closed higher on Tuesday as multinational firms were also boosted by positive industry figures from China overnight.

London’s top flight closed 108.22 points higher at 5,671.96 at the end of trading on Tuesday.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “European stock markets enjoyed a bullish run in the first few hours of trading.

“The World Health Organisation said the situation in Europe might be nearing its peak, and that helped market sentiment.

“The UK market’s relatively large exposure to the natural resources sector has helped it stand out against its eurozone counterparts.”

The other major European markets were slightly more mixed, as some investors appeared cautious ahead of Wednesday’s important Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) figures.

The German Dax increased by 1.22%, while the French Cac moved 0.4% higher.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones made modest gains as US traders remained cautious despite US health official Dr Anthony Fauci saying they are seeing small signs that social distancing is working.

Meanwhile, sterling made minor gains against the dollar and euro despite official figures showing that the economy stagnated at the end of 2019.

The value of the pound rose 0.03% versus the US dollar at 1.242 and was up 0.49% against the euro at 1.130.

In company news, firms in the aerospace and travel sectors led a rebound, with the likes of Carnival, IAG and Rolls-Royce returning to positive territory.

The listed supermarket firms were mixed despite new figures showing that March was the busiest month on record for the grocers as shoppers rushed to stock up on vital supplies to see them through the pandemic.

Elsewhere, shares in Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment jumped higher after UK regulators gave a thumbs up to its multibillion pound takeover of a major rival.

The Competition and Markets Authority on Tuesday cleared Flutter Entertainment’s £10 billion merger with Stars Group, which owns Sky Bet.

Flutter shares increased by 654p to 7,288p at the close of play.

Passport and banknote-maker De La Rue saw shares rise despite saying it expects a large drop in profit during the financial year that just ended, after struggles in its currency arm. Shares rose 3.3p to 57p.

Domino’s Pizza Group shares increased after it appointed the former boss of Costa Coffee as its new chief executive, as the company took another step towards replacing its whole top team. It moved 15.6p higher to 284p.

The price of oil rebounded after falling to an 18-year low on Monday, as it was reported the Trump administration and Russia will enter into talks about trying to stabilise the energy market.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil increased 16.5% to 26.42 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Imperial Brands, up 163.8p at 1,496.8p, Smiths Group, up 110.5p, Flutter Entertainment, up 654p at 7,288p, and Ashtead, up 132.5p at 1,765.5p.

The biggest fallers of the day were Fresnillo, down 33.2p at 666.8p, United Utilities, down 44.6p at 902.8p, Lloyds Group, down 1.5p at 32p, and M&G, down 4.9p at 112.6p.