UK stocks drop on new Covid variant, Apple warning

by Jonathan Adams
uk stock

The FTSE 100 index was down 53 points or 0.8% at 7,115 points with just a handful of stocks in positive territory

UK stocks declined in early trading after a selloff in overseas markets after the first case of the Omicron variant in the U.S. and a warning from technology firm Apple that demand for its latest iPhone had weakened.

Meanwhile, investors were also watching energy prices ahead of an meeting of OPEC+ oil producers, which it is hoped will lead to an increase in supplies after the U.S. and others released crude from their strategic reserves.

At 8.45 am the FTSE 100 index was down 53 points or 0.8% at 7,115 points with just a handful of stocks in positive territory.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline was one of the few gainers, its shares moving up 0.1% to £15.43 ($20.51) after it reported that its sotrovimab vaccine had shown ‘ongoing activity against all tested variants of concern and interest defined by the World Health Organization’ including key mutations of the Omicron variant.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell announced that it would begin buying back up to £1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) of A and B shares from today in the first instalment of its £5.26 billion ($7 billion) capital return programme after the sale of its Permian assets in the U.S. Shares drifted off 0.2% to £16.05 ($21.34) in line with the market.

Business services provider Serco reiterated its guidance for the current financial year and gave its initial guidance for next year, which it said would be ‘in line with analysts’ consensus’.

Travel firm FirstGroup announced its tender offer to return up to £500 million ($664.71 million) to shareholders at 105p per share had been significantly over-subscribed, sending its shares up 1.1% to 96.3p.

Shares in specialist investment firm Impax Asset Management gained 1.9% to £13.75 ($18.28) after it posted an increase of £17 billion ($22.60 billion) or 84% in assets under management to £37.2 billion ($49.45 billion) in the year to September thanks to record net inflows of £10.7 billion ($14.22 billion).

Investment platform AJ Bell also reported an increase in full year results, with assets under administration rising 29% to £72.8 billion ($96.78 billion) in the 12 months to September thanks to net inflows of £6.4 billion ($8.51 billion).

Auction Technology Group, which provides the technology behind many of the world’s curated online auctions, posted a 34% increase in revenues for the year to September.



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