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March 24, 2020, 10:09 a.m. EDT

British stocks join global rally on first day of lockdown

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch


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A pedestrian wearing a mask walks at Oxford Circus in central London on March 24, 2020 after Britain ordered a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

U.K. equities joined a global rally Tuesday amid hopes Italy has seen the worst of the coronavirus epidemic and U.S. authorities will pass an economic stimulus package.

The FTSE 100 (FTSE:UK:UKX)  surged 4.9%, and the mid-cap FTSE 250 (FTSE:UK:MCX)   jumped 5.2%, a remarkable performance given U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night started giving police the power to fine those who leave their homes for reasons other than food shopping and other essential services.

Read: Britain becomes latest country in lockdown as police enforce new restrictions

Stocks rallying were some of the hardest hit recently, such as movie chain CIneworld (LON:UK:CINE)  , which jumped 31%, and brewery and pubs operator Marston’s (LON:UK:MARS)  , which jumped 27%.

Insurer Prudential rose 19%. It conceded Tuesday that it may have to delay or scrap the initial public offering of Jackson National Life Insurance in the U.S.

Prudential said as a whole it is “financially resilient” and said the risk-based capital ratio for Jackson was at a “broadly similar level” to the 366% it was at the end of the year.

BT Group (LON:UK:BT.A)   jumped 8%. It said it’s in exclusive talks to sell BT’s domestic operations in France to Computacenter (LON:UK:CCC)  .

Games Workshop (LON:UK:GAW)   dropped 8% as it said its performance in March as the COVID-19 outbreak spread has been impacted. Trading in the nine months to the end of February was in line with expectations, the company said.

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