- A rally in UK stocks this morning was short lived as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned the coronavirus outbreak could halve its 2020 global growth forecast.

Shares had initially gained on hopes of a co-ordinated response from central banks around the world to stabilise financial markets, but the OECD warning appears to have knocked fragile investor confidence.

At 1159, the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index had plunged 1.23% to 6,499.52.


Insurance group Hiscox rose 1.7% to £12.47, despite reporting 61% drop in pre-tax profit as large catastrophe events including storms in the US, the Caribbean and Japan led to a surge in claims.

Hiscox also upped its premium revenue, generated strong investment returns and raised its annual dividend 3.5% to 29.6c per share.

Engineering group Senior jumped 3.5% to 146p, even as it booked a 53% fall in annual profit after it was hurt by the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft.

Senior also posted a 3% revenue boost and nudged up its dividend by 1%. The company said its was closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak, including the potential impact of any macroeconomic disruption on its end markets, supply chain and customers.

Gulf region focused hospitals group NMC Health requested a standstill agreement with lenders and hired Moelis to advise on a debt restructuring. Its shares remain suspended at £10.00.

Budget carrier Wizz Air fell 4% to £32.79 after agreeing to form an Abu Dhabi-based joint venture with Abu Dhabi Developmental.

The venture, dubbed Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, would be a low-cost airline that would launch its operations at Abu Dhabi International Airport in the fall of 2020.

Software company Sage added 0.3% to 684p as it agreed to sell its Brazilian assets to local management for up to £10m.

AstraZeneca gained 1.3% to £68.82 on completing the sale of the global commercial rights of its hypertension medicines to Atnahs Pharma for up to $390m.

Textiles company Johnson Service soared 8.6% to 199p as its profit was boosted by recent acquisitions.


Africa-focused oil company Tower Resources jumped 12.24% to 0.48p, having agreed to sell down a 24.5% stake in its Thali prospect off the coast of Cameroon to OilLR.

Hostel group Safestay firmed 2.2% to 27.6p as it announced that it would no longer acquire a hostel in Prague after the owner was unable to satisfy 'certain conditions'.

Cloud computing company Beeks Financial Cloud rallied 5.2% to 104.7p as its first-half profit rose 46% after revenue increased by nearly fifth.

Mining company Strategic Minerals jumped 17.6% to 0.5p on announcing that an arbitrator in the US would make a decision on a long-running claim against one of its major customers by 30 May.

The company also announced that its access to the Cobre magnetite stockpile had been rolled over until 31 March 2021.

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