- UK stocks closed sharply lower on Tuesday after oil plays were hit by a record slump in crude oil prices as the coronavirus pandemic sapped demand for energy in an already-oversupplied market.

At 4.30pm the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 2.9% or 165 points to 5,647. Having lost 1.8% by midday, losses accelerated over the afternoon as US markets sold off.

US crude oil futures for May delivery actually traded below zero for the first time in history yesterday as traders tried to offload supplies onto an already saturated market with little to no surplus storage capacity.

This impacted heavyweights BP, which lost 2.4% to 295p, and Royal Dutch Shell which lost 4% to £12.80. Smaller oil producers such as Premier and Tullow fell further, with shares in Premier down 12.6% to 21.2p while Tullow fell 7.8% to 162p even as it appointed a new chief executive.

Mining and oil giant BHP softened 6.2% to £12.30 as it warned the Covid-19 crisis would crimp steel production volumes this year.

BHP nevertheless reiterated its annual iron ore production guidance, while putting its copper and coal guidance under review.

Rival mining firms Antofagasta, Evraz and Glencore were even bigger fallers, down between 6% and 10% apiece by midday.

Primark-owner Associated British Foods shed 6% to £18.66, having scrapped its interim dividend after a write down on the value of its inventory due Covid-19 lockdowns dented its profits.

Video game producer Sumo fell 5.4% to 170.2p, despite swinging to a full-year profit.

Sumo said it wasn't furloughing any employees as Covid-19 lockdown measures increase people's appetite for gaming.

Bourse operator London Stock Exchange gave up early gains of more than 3% to trade down 1.8% at £74.05, despite reporting a rise in first-quarter income, led by increased equity trading and higher clearing activity, and saying it would still pay a final dividend for 2019.

Wealth manager Quilter also fell 1.8%, to 113.3p, as its assets under management (AUM) fell 8% in the first quarter due to net inflows being offset by a negative market performance.

Quilter also said it was dropping its 2020 margin guidance in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, but still intended to pay a final dividend for 2019 and continue a buyback.

Utility services provider Telecom Plus was another small loser, drifting 0.8% to £12.34 after profits came in at the lower end of its guidance.

However, the firm said it still planned to pay a final dividend for the 2019 financial year.

Safety and medical equipment maker Halma was a rare gainer, adding 1% to £21.12, having maintained its guidance on profit, although it added results would likely have a significant second-half weighting.

Budget carrier Wizz Air was another gainer, up 0.2% to £27.14 after confirming that it was an eligible issuer under a UK government finance facility designed to assist businesses during the Covid-19 crisis.

Document management group Restore eased back 3.8% to 375p, having scrapped its 2019 final dividend and furloughed 40-50% of its workforce.

Infrastructure services provider Nexus Infrastructure was a heavy faller, losing 7.4% to 163p as it furloughed 713 employees, or 87% of its workforce, having closed down site-based activities in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

Story provided by