By Barbara Kollmeyer
The main London index was under pressure Thursday, following a selloff on Wall Street, with pandemic worries chiefly weighing on global mining stocks.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +1.37% was trading 0.6% lower to 7,130, in a volatile week that has seen the index rose 1.2%. The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.4382% rose 0.3% to $1.3311. A stronger pound may also be weighing the blue-chip index, as it can be negative for companies that earn dollars overseas.
While Wall Street stocks were moving higher on Thursday, a wild session of trading saw sharp losses on Wednesday, following news of the first U.S. omicron COVID case.
“The World Health Organization said it expected to have more information on the Omicron variant within days, but up until we get an official and justified answer, market participants are likely to stay reluctant to massively add risk to their portfolios,” said Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD Group, in a note to clients.
Just a handful of companies were in the black, including consumer goods group Unilever /zigman2/quotes/204685760/composite UL +1.34% /zigman2/quotes/205449809/delayed UK:ULVR +0.89% up 1.1%, which was the best gain for any stock. International Consolidated Airlines /zigman2/quotes/208070069/delayed UK:IAG +0.53% rose 0.9%.
Mining stocks led the way south with Glencore /zigman2/quotes/201400686/delayed UK:GLEN +1.64% down 4%, Antofagasta down 2.8% and Anglo American /zigman2/quotes/201381512/delayed UK:AAL +1.71% down 1%. Oil stocks were among the few gainers, with Royal Dutch Shell /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA +1.56% /zigman2/quotes/205095589/composite RDS.A +2.31% up 1% and BP /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP +1.41% /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP +1.73% up 0.5%. Oil prices were drifting lower, OPEC+ agreed to rollover its existing policy and lift output by 400,000 barrels per day in January.