StockMarketWire.com - It may be unlucky for some but for UK investors Friday 13th provided welcome relief after a week of brutal losses which saw $8trn wiped off global markets.

Governments in countries which have been hardest-hit by coronavirus, such as Italy and South Korea, have implemented bans on the short-selling of stocks in order to try to restore order to their respective markets.

FTSE IN RECOVERY MODE

Having lost 10.9%, or £160bn, in value yesterday, its biggest ever one-day points fall and the worst day since the 1987 crash after the Trump administration banned Europeans from traveling to the US, the FTSE rallied driven by the mining and energy sectors.

At midday, the benchmark FTSE 100 index had jumped 6.8% to 5,594.21, although recovery gains were less impressive for mid caps, the FTSE 250 2.8% higher at 16,155.54.

Brent crude oil prices staged their own modest recovery, up 5.4% to around the $35 level per barrel while gold, which actually fell yesterday such was the indiscriminate nature of the selling, recovered to $1,584 per ounce.

Leading the gainers were miners BHP (BHP), up 15% to £10.78, and Rio Tinto (RIO), up 13% to £33.63. In close pursuit were Anglo American (AAL) up 10% to £13.64, Glencore (GLEN) up 9% to 138p and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) up 9% to £11.95.

PRECIOUS LITTLE COMPANY NEWS

With investors still shell-shocked from the sell-off it was a typically slow news Friday for UK stocks.

Holidays and insurance group Saga announced that, following the government's advice that people aged 70 and over shouldn't go on cruises, it would suspend cruise operations until 1 May.

The move was likely to cost Saga between £10m and £15m in lost profits over the next six weeks but the firm has £33m of net cash and a £100m credit facility it can fall back on to ease any working capital strains.

That apparent balance sheet flexibility saw shares in the company rally more than 8% to 16.25p.

Oil explorer Premier Oil moved to reassure investors that despite the collapse in oil prices it was on a firm footing, having hedged around 30% of this year's production at an average price of $60 per barrel and that it had plenty of liquidity to ride out a phase of lower prices.

The firm had also reviewed its capital spending and based on a $100m reduction and no change in the oil price from current levels it would end the year roughly cash-flow neutral. The news sent the shares soaring, up 60% to 20.3p.

HOSPITALS HELPING HAND

Hospital owner Spire Healthcare rallied 7% to 90.4p on announcing that it had offered support to Britain's National Health Service to assist with its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The exact nature, extent and timing of the support had yet to be determined, Spire said.

In another example of the unexpected knock-on effects of coronavirus, games maker Codemasters announced that due to the decision by Universal Pictures to delay the cinema release of 'Fast & Furious Crossroads' from May 2020 until April 2021, timing for the launch of its tie-in game was now 'uncertain'.

Shares in games designer tumbled 6.5% to 221.5p.

On a more positive note, drug discovery firm Redx revealed that it had received a takeover approach from Yesod Biosciences at 15p per share and was in discussions with its major shareholders on what to do next.

Redx stock rocketed 180% higher to 14p.

SMALL CAP WRAP

Graphene-based products maker Directa Plus firmed 6% to 65p, having forecast revenues to treble in the first quarter.

Cold storage and logistics company Norish stayed flat at 84p as it posted a 20% rise in annual profit after bolstering its margins.

In a sign of how the coronavirus could affect the corporate calendar, video advertising technology company Tremor International said it had cancelled a capital markets event due to be held on 2 April as a precaution.

Tremor shares fell 7% to 116p.

Smaller oil companies also moved to calm shareholders, though with mixed results.

Tower Resources fell 3% to 0.3 even as it insisted its Thali prospect offshore Cameroon remained an 'attractive' asset despite the recent rout in oil prices.

And oil and gas project investor Reabold Resources lost earlier gains to stay flat at 0.34p after stating that it and its portfolio companies were 'financially robust' and could take advantage of acquisition opportunities.


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