StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 finished in the red on Thursday, investor sentiment dampened by a rare dividend cut by oil major and index heavyweight Royal Dutch Shell.

Adding to the disappointment was the European Central Bank (ECB), which held back on big policy moves rather than expanding quantitative easing, despite mounting evidence of the damage being wrought on the euro zone economy by the coronavirus crisis.

At 16.30, the FTSE 100 was down 217.34 points or 3.55% at 5,897.91.

LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Banking group Lloyd's shed 6.5% to 32.50p having pulled its guidance after first-quarter profit plunged 95%.

The bank warned of further credit losses in the second quarter after taking impairments of £1.4bn, owing to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on customers.

Royal Dutch Shell slumped 11.4% to £12.86 as it reduced its first quarter 2020 dividend to 16 cents per share citing a prolonged period of economic uncertainty and weaker commodity prices.

Supermarket group Sainsbury's tumbled 3.8% to 199.5p after it warned of a £500m hit to profits due to the cost of protecting customers and colleagues during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It announced no cash annual bonuses will be paid to executive directors and the wider senior executive population in for 2019/20, while a decision about dividend payments has been deferred.

Reckitt Benckiser was buoyed 4% to £66.58 as it reported group like-for-like growth of 13.3% in the first quarter following strong demand for its hygiene and health products such as Dettol and Lysol due to Covid-19.

The consumer goods company announced its hygiene business saw like-for-like growth of 12.8% in the first quarter of 2020, with strong growth in most markets.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals was 1.2% higher at £23.60 on the news that it has reiterated its guidance for global injectables revenue growth in the low to mid-single digits for 2020.

The company said it had made a 'strong start' to the year despite the challenging market conditions owing to the Covid-19 crisis.

Wealth management group St James's Place shed 5% to 857.4p as it reported gross inflows rose 12% to £4.04bn in the first quarter but funds under management were impacted by the decline in global markets and ended the period at £101.7bn.

The impact of COVID-19 meant it has withheld one-third of its 2019 final dividend.

James Fisher & Sons was down 4.8% to £13.60 after the marine services provider said its performance in the first quarter was in line with its expectations, but warned that the impact of Covid-19 had become evident towards the end of the quarter and had been exacerbated by the slump in oil prices.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon was down 1.8% at 940.5p having raised gross proceeds of about £141m through the placing of shares at a discount.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Affordable consumer goods brands developer UP Global Sourcing cheapened 2.6% to 52p after it suspended the interim dividend as part of a number of measures to conserve cash.

However chief executive Simon Showman insisted the company is 'well capitalised with a strong balance sheet and good access to funding', while stressing 'there may be attractive growth opportunities' for his charge as it emerges from the COVID-19 crisis.

Biotech minnow Oxford Biodynamics shot 13% higher to 72p after it announced that its proprietary EpiSwitch platform technology had been selected to profile COVID-19 patients.

The EpiSwitch platform provides biomarkers which indicate the presence of a particular a disease, and have the capability to identify patients who will benefit from immune treatments because they are of particular risk to severe overreaction of the immune system.


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