- UK stocks cratered on Monday after a decision by Saudi Arabia to slash oil prices even as the coronavirus was crimping demand sent oil stocks plummeting.

Wall Street's main stock indexes joined in the bloodletting, plunging as the rapid spread of the coronavirus amplified fears of a global recession. The slump in US markets even triggered a 15-minute trading halt in stocks after the S&P 500 swooned at the market open.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index finished a staggering 7.69% lower at 5,965.77.


Oil companies were among the biggest losers, with BP plunging 18.6% to 321.8p and Royal Dutch Shell slumping 16.7% to £13.29.

Oil prices fell by more than a quarter as Saudi Arabia cut export oil prices and pledged to keep the production taps flowing after Russia refused to make output cuts.

The decision came while a widening spread of the coronavirus threatens to tip the global economy into recession, sapping demand for energy.

Supermarket giant Tesco ticked up 0.7p to 241.3p as it agreed to sell its Thai and Malaysian assets to Bangkok-based CP for $10.6bn (£8.2bn) and pledged to return £5bn of the proceeds to shareholders.

Outsourced services company Serco slipped 5.6% lower to 137.7p despite winning a contract extension worth about A$730m (£370m) to provide support services to Fiona Stanley hospital in Perth, Australia.

Engineering company Wood Group, which offers services to the oil sector, sank 14.3% to 275.6p, even as it closed out a deal to sell its nuclear assets to Jacobs for £250m.

Distribution and services group Bunzl fell 3.8% to £18.46 on announcing that it had acquired safety wear company Bodyguard Workwear, for an undisclosed sum.

Life science research tools provider Abcam lost 8% to trade at £11.59 after it reported a fall in profit, as a ramp-up in investments weighed on margins.

The company also said it was reviewing its dividend as it eyed investment opportunities as a potentially better way of deploying capital.

Insurance company Phoenix reversed 3.3% to 661.6p, having announced that its finance director Jim McConville would stand down in May after having spent eight years with the company.

McConville, who was also in charge of the company's Scottish operations, would be replaced on 15 May by current deputy finance director Rakesh Thakrar.

Middle East and Africa focused payments technology company Network International dropped 12% to 470p, despite booking a 14% rise in annual profit buoyed by higher transaction volumes.


Shipping services provider Clarkson weakened 3% to £23.15 as it warned the coronavirus would hurt its performance in the first half of 2020.

Clarkson also booked a steep fall in annual profit amid a rise in costs following its acquisition of RS Platou and weakness in its financial business.

Oil company Serica Energy cheapened 8% to 81.2p, even as it got production restarted back at the Bruce platform in the North Sea earlier than it had originally hoped following a technical issue.

Mass spectrometry developer Microsaic Systems slumped 20% to 0.8p, as it posted a full-year loss and said sales had slowed in the new year thanks to the coronavirus.

Waste management company Renewi shed 0.6% to trade at 34.9p, having appointed Ben Verwaayen as its new chairman, to replace Colin Matthews from the beginning of April.

Verwaayen had been chief executive of companies including Alcatel-Lucent and BT.

Shares in consumer self-care company Venture Life improved 1.8% to 28p on news of a strong start to 2020 with orders from coronavirus-stricken China exceeding expectations and the company assuring there's been no impact to production at its Biokosmes facility in Italy.

Story provided by