London stocks were headed for the worst weekly performance since the 2008 Great Financial Crisis, even as they clawed back a fraction of some lost territory on Friday.
The FTSE 100 index was looking at an 18% weekly loss, the biggest since a 21% drop in October 2008, as markets slumped this week, specifically Thursday on fears governments were not doing enough to stop the coronavirus epidemic wrecking global economies.
The index rose 1.4% to 5,311.76 on Friday, while the pound slid 0.7% to $1.2480 as investors continued to seek shelter in the U.S. dollar.
“Improved Chinese coronavirus data is helping boost sentiment for the commodity-heavy FTSE 100. However, with much of Europe likely to go on lockdown, travel stocks remain in the firing line,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG, in a note to clients. Among miners, shares of Rio Tinto PLC and BHP Group PLC rose over 5% each.
Italy is on total lockdown, while Spain, Ireland, Denmark and France have also imposed at least partial bars on movement and businesses, closing schools and cultural institutions and discouraging large gatherings. Sporting events have also been canceled or postponed around the world.
“The travel sector remains at the forefront of selling pressure in the U.K., with the likes of TUI and Carnival shuddering lower yet again today. With Thomas Cook and Flybe both underwater, there is a very real fear that we could see some companies falter as global travel grinds to a halt,” said Mahony. But Carnival rose 5% on Friday
While China’s new cases of the coronavirus have dropped dramatically, there have been 798 confirmed cases in the U.K. as of Friday, a gain of 208 on the prior day.