By Barbara Kollmeyer
The week kicked off with losses for London on Monday, as an increasingly downbeat geopolitical mood driving the U.K. index lower.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.03% dipped 0.2% to 7,407, which was better than bigger drops seen on the continent, where the Stoxx 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.15% was off 0.7%. U.S. stock futures also fell — Wall Street is closed for the Presidents Day holiday — after reports that Russia had not yet committed to a summit between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to broker face to face talks for Thursday, which the U.S. agreed to, and those reports drove up U.S. futures and global equities earlier Monday. But optimism faded by Monday afternoon in Europe after a Kremlin spokesman said nothing had been decided .
Banking stocks were rising, led by a 0.8% gain for Natwest /zigman2/quotes/203233010/composite NWG +2.05% /zigman2/quotes/209265718/delayed UK:NWG +1.75% , which reported strong results on Friday, though rising costs. Shares of HSBC /zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite HSBC +0.10% /zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed UK:HSBA +0.12% were up slightly ahead of Tuesday’s fourth-quarter results.
AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.19% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN -0.20% was the best performer on the index, up 2% after the pharmaceutical giant reported positive Phase 3 trial results for its breast-cancer treatment Enhertu, which showed meaningful survival improvement in patients compared with chemotherapy.
The downside was led by major oil companies, as energy prices /zigman2/quotes/209723049/delayed CL00 +0.45% bounced around on Ukraine headlines, with BP /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP -1.75% /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP -1.01% and Shell /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:SHEL -0.69% /zigman2/quotes/205095589/composite SHEL -0.57% off by around 1% each. Shares of Russian metals firms Evraz /zigman2/quotes/202291633/delayed UK:EVR -12.59% and Polymetal /zigman2/quotes/204469675/delayed UK:POLY -0.42% fell 4% and 6%, respectively.
The biggest drop was reserved for Synairgen /zigman2/quotes/203511112/delayed UK:SNG -6.22% , which slumped 80% after the U.K. drug-discovery company said a Phase 3 trial of its inhaled treatment for COVID-19 failed to meet its primary or key secondary efficacy endpoints.
And Morses Club /zigman2/quotes/202903241/delayed UK:MCL -8.98% stock tumbled 63% after the U.K. subprime lender issued a profit warning due to increased claims activity. It also said Chief Executive Officer Paul Smith has stepped down with immediate effect, and will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Gary Marshall.