FTSE 100 rebounds as coronavirus fears calm

The FTSE 100 continued its rebound as the major European markets all shook off fears over the coronavirus.

Traders were left optimistic after the World Health Organisation held fire on declaring the outbreak as a global emergency while more Chinese cities were put on lockdown amid attempts to halt the virus.

London’s top flight closed 78.31 points higher at 7,585.98 at the end of trading on Friday.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “Europe’s major rebound continued unabated on Friday, even if the Dow Jones wasn’t anywhere near as enthusiastic.

“The European indices seemed to shake off the coronavirus concerns that had plagued them for much of the week.”

The German and French markets surged higher as a result, while the key European markets were also buoyed by PMI figures for January which surpassed expectations.

The German Dax increased by 1.41% while the French Cac moved 0.88% higher.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones nudged higher when the markets opened but it was far less enthusiastic than the European markets, with coronavirus fears not quite as intense in the US over the week.

Meanwhile, the value of sterling dipped lower despite positive figures for the UK’s manufacturing and services sectors in Friday’s flash PMI data.

It fell behind the dollar and euro despite reducing the odds that the Bank of England policymakers will opt for a rate cut in next week’s meeting.

The value of the pound decreased 0.37% versus the US dollar at 1.307 and slipped 0.08% against the euro at 1.186.

JustEat bidding war
JustEat bidding war

In company news, Just Eat shares sank after news broke that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) intended to investigate its takeover by Takeaway.com after the market closed on Thursday.

Just Eat shareholder Cat Rock Capital said the CMA’s decision to probe the move was “shocking and clearly unwarranted”.

Shares in the takeaway delivery firm dipped 15p to 865.6p at the close of play.

Auto Trader led the FTSE 100 after Morgan Stanley significantly raised its target price for the digital car marketplace. It closed 19.8p higher at 595.6p on Friday.

Pub group Marston’s saw shares slide after it warned that the planned hike in the minimum wage due to take effect in April is expected to hit the pub by up to £3 million.

The warning came as the chain, which has 1,400 pubs, revealed a strong Christmas fortnight, although this was offset by “subdued trading” at the start to December “as a consequence of poor weather”. Shares slid 6.2p to 111p.

Elsewhere, Virgin Money lifted higher after it kicked off its hunt for a new chairman, months after re-branding following its takeover by CYBG.

Shares in the company rose by 6.8p to 173.3p after it confirmed plans for City veteran Jim Pettigrew to step down.

The price of oil dived lower as the North Sea benchmark continued its tumble over the week as coronavirus continues to impact China.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil fell 2.83% to 60.34 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Auto Trader, up 19.8p at 595.6p, Hargreaves Lansdown, up 55p at 1,831.5p, WM Morrison, up 5.45p at 187.65p, and Rentokil, up 13.8p at 481.4p.

The biggest fallers on the index were NMC health, down 57p at 1,347.5p, Just Eat, down 15p to 865.6p, Whitbread, down 53p at 4,302p, and ITV, down 1.15p at 141p.