By Emily Horton
London’s stock market fell on Friday, after disappointing data from Germany, China and the U.S. reaffirmed fears of a global economic slowdown, hitting oil majors in particular as crude prices plunged. .
GVC Holdings PLC tumbled 17% after top executives sold sizable stakes in the gambling group.
How are markets performing?
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +2.90% dropped 0.6% to 7,111.75, after finishing down 0.5% on Thursday.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.0722% slid anew, dropping to $1.3018 from $1.3083 late on Thursday evening in New York. Losses for the pound helped stem some of the slide for the FTSE 100, as a weak currency benefits exporters in the index.
What’s driving the markets?
Weak economic data from China, Germany and the U.S. cast a dark cloud over global markets on Friday. China’s exports fell almost 21% in February, while German factory data revealed a 2.6% decline in January. Later, U.S. jobs data revealed the weakest growth in 17 months.
This all comes a day after the European Central Bank cut its growth forecast for the eurozone and announced new stimulus measures for the lagging economy.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain might never leave the EU if Parliament didn’t support her deal. Last month, lawmakers agreed in a non-binding vote to avoid a no-deal Brexit. May will have a last stab at asking the European Union for a better Brexit deal, ahead of the presumably final vote in the British Parliament next week on March 12.
What stocks were active?
“There is a widely used phrase in investing that says ‘follow the money’. In GVC’s case, shareholders are following this advice to the letter as the gambling company’s share price dives amid news of hefty share sales by directors,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell said in a client note.
“Chief executive Kenneth Alexander has sold £13.7m worth of stock and Chairman Lee Feldman has dumped nearly £6m of his personal holding. Investors are clearly spooked by this news and are also selling down,” Mould continued.
In sympathy, fellow gambling company Paddy Power Betfair PLC eased 0.8%.
Heavyweight oil majors logged sharp losses, tracking a plunge in the price of oil, which was weighed by global growth worries. Royal Dutch Shell PLC /zigman2/quotes/205095589/composite RDS.A -0.42% /zigman2/quotes/207682964/composite RDS.B -0.57% and BP PLC /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP -1.93% fell over 1% each.