British midcaps hit over three-month low; FTSE 100 outshines
By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Shashwat Awasthi
(Reuters) - London's mid-cap index slid to its lowest in more than three months on Wednesday amid worries that Britain's upcoming budget may disappoint investors, while the FTSE 100 snapped a four-day losing run after a rally on Wall Street.
The FTSE 250 <.FTMC> shed 0.5%. The export-laden FTSE 100 <.FTSE>, which fell to a one-year low earlier, ended 0.4% higher as investors in the United States bought into stocks after a recent sell-off triggered by concerns over the coronavirus.
Firms more exposed to the British economy underperformed and sterling climbed lower, mainly due to concerns that new finance minister Rishi Sunak's budget in March may not deliver the level of fiscal spending expected by markets. [GBP/]
Meanwhile among blue-chips, miner Rio Tinto <RIO.L> and Diageo <DGE.L> became the latest multinational firms hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with the latter shedding nearly 1%.
"When you have the likes of Diageo talking numbers and how this is going to affect profit and loss, in market terms, the reality factor is in your face," said Keith Temperton, a trader at Tavira Securities.
"I don't see that reversing until we see evidence of a peak in (virus) numbers and that's not going to happen until quite some time."
Another casualty of the coronavirus was travel-food firm SSP <SSPG.L>, which skidded 5% to a more than two-year low after it warned of a 50% fall in February sales across the Asia Pacific region. Peer WH Smith <SMWH.L> gave up 3.6%.
"These are neat examples of how there is a real demand destruction that occurs when the coronavirus hits," Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson said.
The rapid spread of the deadly virus outside China sparked a sell-off that has erased about $3 trillion from the value of global stocks in the past four days.
Late on Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted Americans to begin preparing for a likely pandemic.
Although the disease is believed to have peaked in China, where it first originated late last year, the resulting hit to factory output and consumer spending has threatened global economic growth in 2020.
Frankie & Benny's owner Restaurant Group <RTN.L> fell 7.2% after saying it would reduce the number of sites in its leisure business and temporarily suspend its dividend.
Among the few gainers, engineering firm Weir <WEIR.L> jumped 11% on its best day since June 2010 to top the mid-caps after posting higher annual profit.
(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani, Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Mark Heinrich)