London stocks slide as lockdown hits


London’s FTSE 100 dropped on Monday, as economists slashed their expectations for the global economy this year and a raft of UK-based companies laid out expected hits to profit, cuts in spending and the potential for trouble with rising debt.

The blue-chip index .FTSE fell 4.2%, sinking back into the red after a two-day bounce due to the extraordinary stimulus unveiled by governments and central banks in the UK and beyond last week.

The index was down 35% from its peak in January and on course for its worst monthly performance since 1987, while the FTSE MID 250 index .FTMC of midcap stocks was down over 40% from its all-time high.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday the government may have to impose curfews and travel restrictions even as pubs, clubs and gyms remain closed, bringing more damage to businesses.

Shares in Associated British Foods (ABF.L) fell 5.9% after it said Primark was closing all of its stores around the world, a loss of roughly 650 million pounds worth of net sales a month.

Troubled fashion retailer Ted Baker Plc (TED.L) slumped about 17% after saying it shut shops and outlets that accounted for about 38% of its global retail sales in 2020 due to the outbreak.

Britain’s biggest commercial free-to-air broadcaster ITV (ITV.L) dropped 8.5% after it pulled its dividend and said the rapidly changing situation meant it could no longer forecast its ad sales or yearly outcome.

“It’s just a world of pain for investors,” said Keith Temperton, a trader at Tavira Securities.

“Until we get some sort of an indication that things are going to get better with COVID-19, the uncertainty will continue, volatility will continue and the markets will continue to go lower.”

Investors took little comfort from a fresh round of stimulus announced of Friday that included the government paying the wages of workers up and down the country.

That came on top of aggressive central bank interest rate cuts and billions of pounds pledged as fiscal stimulus.

Goldman Sachs predicted global real gross domestic product to contract by about 1% in 2020, a sharper economic decline than in the year following the 2008 global financial crisis, and sees advanced economies contracting “very sharply” in the second quarter, including a 24% drop in the United States.

Oil major Shell (RDSa.L) slipped 2.2% as it lowered capital expenditure for the current year by about $5 billion and suspended the next tranche of its share buyback plan following the recent oil price crash.

Publisher Pearson (PSON.L) dropped over 10% as it said it would halt share buybacks and forecast a 25 million pounds to 35 million pounds hit to operating profit this year due to the coronavirus-driven closure of many of its academic testing centres.

In a bright spot, hand sanitizer-maker Byotrol (BYOT.L) surged 43.2% as it saw a surge in demand for its infection prevention products amid the coronavirus health crisis.

In global moves, the U.S. Senate’s drive to pass a $1-trillion-plus coronavirus response bill remained stymied late on Sunday.