- UK stocks closed modestly in the black on Friday, paring a portion of recent historic losses, as governments continued to approve large stimulus measures designed to buffer economies from the spreading coronavirus.

At 16.35, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up just 4.72 points, or 0.09%, at 5156.33.


US cruise operator Carnival sailed 18.6% higher to 874p as it flagged it had $11.7bn in untapped liquidity to see it through the coronavirus outbreak.

Clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer fell 7.8% to 106.9p after it scrapped its dividend, warned on profits and foreshadowed a 'severe impact' from Covid-19 on its clothing business.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon jumped 19% to 665p, having posted a 15% rise in first-half profit on the back of 5% growth in like-for-like sales.

The company, however, pulled its interim dividend and warned it expected its full-year profit to fall short of market expectations.

Builders' merchant Travis Perkins added 11.5% to 774.8p, despite announcing that it had suspended its dividend and paused the planned demerger of its Wickes DIY chain until market conditions settled.

Accommodation supplier InterContinental Hotels jumped 15.5% to £27.56, even as it warned its revenue per room could plummet 60% in March.

On a more positive note, the company said demand had recovered in China, where the spread of the coronavirus has been curtailed.

Infrastructure investor 3i Infrastructure firmed 18% to 231.5p, on announcing that it was on track to meet its dividend target.

Retailer Frasers withdrew formal full year guidance with the Sports Direct-to-House of Fraser owner expecting the coronavirus to cause significant disruption. However the shares firmed up 2.1% to 231p as investors bet balance sheet strength and a cash generative model should see Frasers through the crisis.


Posh chocolates seller Hotel Chocolat sweetened up 5.6% to 245p despite warning the coronavirus and reduced high street footfall will result in some or all of its stores being closed for a period, impacting sales and profits.

Investors were relieved as the premium chocolatier announced a £20m placing to underpin its growth plan and provide additional headroom during the pandemic.

Theatre and film advertising group Reach4entertainment Enterprises slumped 11.1% to 0.2p as it said it was reducing employee costs among other mitigating measures to combat a slump in demand caused by Covid-19.

Reach4entertainment said the sudden closure of all live venues on Broadway and in London's West End in the past week meant it expected a material reduction in trading from March onward.

Software provider to the transport sector Tracsis ticked up 3.6% to 485p, despite forecasting a rough road ahead for its events and traffic analytics businesses. Investors instead focused on the expected resilience of the rail technology and services division, which derives most of its income from highly recurring product sales.

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