- Global stock markets were rattled by fears about the spread of coronavirus on Thursday, as it continued to take a grip across China, and the UK prepared to fly its citizens out of Wuhan, where the virus originated.

As of 11.38 am, the FTSE 100 index was trading down 0.93%, or 69.2 points, at 7,414.36.


BT shed 6% to 164.9p after the telecoms company reported results that fell 'slightly below' its expectations for the third quarter of the year, led by weaknesses in its global, enterprise and consumer segments.

Reported pre-tax profit tax fell 3% to £1.91m on-year in the nine months ended 31 December.

Unilever advanced 1.7% to £45.15 on the back of underlying sales growth of 2.9% for the full year 2019 helped by growth in emerging markets and in its home care division.

The company has initiated a strategic review of its global tea business.

Wealth manager St James's Place climbed 2.5% to £11.70 as it reported funds under management ended 2019 at a record £117bn and confirmed a 'robust set' of new business results.

Alcoholic drinks company Diageo softened 2.6% to £30.30 as it warned of expected sales within the 'lower end' of its guidance range as growth in the first half was held back by a strong pound and a volatile backdrop across businesses in India, Latin America and Caribbean and travel retail.

Paragon Banking was 2.7% easier at 513p following a trading update for the three months ended 31 December 2019, which reported new business volumes rose 3.7% on the previous year to £684.9m.

Specialist buy-to-let lending was 1.1% higher year-on-year at £375.4m, while other mortgage and amateur buy-to-let volumes were lower in comparison.

Renishaw, the engineering company, climbed 48p to £42.08 despite a 'challenging trading period' in the first-half of 2020 that saw revenue for the six months ended 31 December 2019 at £259.4m, down 8% on the £296.7m recorded in the same period a year earlier.

It reported adjusted pre-tax profit of £14.3m in the first-half period, compared with adjusted previous year of £59.6m, which it said was primarily due to the reduced revenue.

Private equity group 3i edged 0.7% higher to £11.20 on the news that it saw a rise in net assets in its fiscal third quarter led by growth in its private equity and infrastructure businesses.

Cybersecurity company Avast fell 9.4% to 412.6p after announcing it was looking to offload its analytics business amid privacy concerns, but said the move would not hurt annual performance.

Evraz rose 1.2% to 373.7p after reporting a rise in quarterly steel sales in the fourth quarter of last year.


Aukett Swanke surged 36% higher to 2.65p after the international group of architects, interior designers and engineers reported a major financial turnaround, with pre-tax profit restored for the year to September 2019.

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