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FTSE takes cue from weaker Asian session

A weaker trading session in Asia is spilling into London trading where a meagre offering of corporate news is failing to prop up the market.

Hargreaves Lansdown, NMC Health and mining firms have slipped to the bottom of the FTSE in performance terms while the newly merged Just Eat Takeaway.com is trading up 1.27%.

Coronavirus news is stealing slightly fewer headlines than earlier this week but the spread of the virus continues apace leaving epidemiologists worried that it has yet to reach its peak over the next two months. Among the most affected FTSE stocks is luxury goods firm Burberry which had to temporarily close 24 out of its 64 shops in mainland China. The company’s shares slipped 0.84% .

More worryingly China decided to delay the release of its January trade data which were due out today and will instead publish them together with its February numbers. The coronavirus lockdown started on 23 January, just a day before the country was about to close down for Chinese New Year, and the move could be an attempt to obscure the real impact of the virus even before it became fully public.  

Weak German data hits euro

German industrial production dropped month-on-month in December, which is not unexpected given that Germany takes extended Christmas holidays, but more worryingly it also showed a material decline compared with the same month last year, down 6.8%. This combined with yesterday’s factory orders showing the fastest fall in the last ten years is beginning to paint a picture of an economy sliding towards recession, hit by trade wars and Brexit.

Currency traders sold off the euro against both the dollar and the pound. Sterling, on the other hand, is being propped up by stronger housing data showing house prices have risen at the fastest pace in two years.

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