FTSE outperforms rivals as global markets sunk by Trump illness

After trading in the doldrums all day after the news that US President Donald Trump has tested positive for Covid-19, the FTSE 100 rallied in the afternoon as markets opened across the pond.

The UK’s top index ended the day up 22.67 points to 5902.12, a rise of 0.4%.

The index had been stuck at around 5,830 before US markets opened.

Despite the S&P 500 reacting badly to the news of Mr Trump’s illness, down 1% by closing time in Europe, the FTSE took heart when New York woke up.

The Dow Jones was also down, by around 0.7% at just before 5pm UK time.

“The news that President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, have tested positive for Covid-19 captured traders’ attention,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

Early on Friday morning the president announced that he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, after taking a test because aide Hope Hicks had fallen ill with the disease.

“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” he said, speaking of himself and the first lady.

According to White House officials Mr Trump is only showing mild symptoms, and senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he had a “great” conversation with the president after his test.

Frankfurt’s Dax closed down by 0.3% and the Cac in Paris ended the day flat.

In London, shares in Rolls-Royce pushed lower, hitting their lowest point since May 2003 as markets closed, a day after announcing plans for a £3 billion fundraise.

The UK’s company news was dominated by Walmart’s plans to sell Asda to petrol station billionaires Mohsin and Zuber Issa.

The £6.8 billion deal did not affect shares in London, as Asda is not publicly traded, but Walmart’s shares dropped by 1.9% in New York.

Asda’s online rival Ocado had a bad day as shares ended down 2.2% a day after Norway’s AutoStore opened two court cases in the UK and the US, claiming that Ocado has breached its patents.

Tui said it was considering plans to raise cash again after the travel business took a battering from the pandemic.

Shares dropped by 2%.

The cost of a barrel of Brent crude oil dropped by 3.2% to 39.63 US dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Standard Life Aberdeen, up 6.9p to 240.1p, Evraz, up 9.5p to 350p, SSE, up 32.5p to 1,286.5p, British Land, up 8.8p to 349.2p, and Rightmove, up 16.2p to 655p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Melrose Industries, down 3.55p to 116.65p, Rolls-Royce, down 3.2p to 113.6p, Avast, down 13.5p to 516.5p, IAG, down 2.34p to 91.48p, and B&M, down 11p to 492.4p.