FTSE 100 set for worst monthly fall since March

FTSE 100 set for worst monthly fall since March on Covid-19 resurgence

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.2%, dragged lower by mining, personal goods maker and aero stocks

The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain. Credit: Reuters

London stocks edged down for a fifth straight session on Friday, with the FTSE 100 set for its biggest monthly drop since March, as a new wave of Covid-19 lockdowns threatened a nascent economic recovery.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.2%, dragged lower by mining, personal goods maker and aero stocks. The index was on course for a monthly drop of 4.9%.

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 fell 0.2% on Friday, with Russian gold miner Petropavlovsk Plc slipping 4.4% to the bottom of index after posting a first-half loss.

The indexes have come under the cosh this month as pressure mounted on Britain to impose a second nationwide lockdown, even as the government said it would stick with a system of local restrictions to contain surging coronavirus cases.

In the latest round of restrictions, West Yorkshire, which includes the northern cities of Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield, will be placed under Britain's highest alert level from Monday.

"Risk sentiment is taking a nosedive with equities leading the way," said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi.

"We are in the thick of the Covid-19 haze now as winter is coming to the northern hemisphere, where crowding and social-behavioural patterns could be a frightening source of a seasonality bounce in the Covid-19 curve."

Helping limit the losses on Friday, NatWest Group Plc jumped 5.9% to the top of the FTSE 100 index. The lender swung to a quarterly profit as it set aside a smaller-than-expected amount to deal with pandemic-driven bad loans.

BT Group Plc gained 3.6% after Barclays raised its target price on Britain's biggest fixed-line and mobile operator.

Vivo Energy Plc rose 1.8% after the Africa-focussed fuel retailer resumed dividend payout on improved volume in the third quarter.