StockMarketWire.com - UK markets lost most of Monday's gains, sinking on Tuesday as investors mulled mixed corporate news and took the opportunity to book profits after yesterday's rally, with a plunge for major market in New York not helping.

The Dow Jones fell 230 points on Tuesday, joining Europe in erasing Monday's surge, but the tech heavy Nasdaq, continued to defy gravity after closing at record highs on Monday, nudging a further 0.5% higher.

In the UK, the benchmark FTSE 100 fell 1.5% on Tuesday to 6,189.90 by the close, pulled lower by hotel and restaurant operator Whitbread, major banks and a firm showing for the pound. The FTSE 250 mid-cap index fared slightly better but still declined more than 1% to 17,350.04.

On the currency markets, the pound made solid progress against the dollar and euro to trade at $1.2571 and €1.1127 respectively. Gold prices stayed largely flat at $1,774.40 per ounce.

WEAK OUTLOOK

Shares in Whitbread fell 5.5% to £23.05 after it reported a 79% fall in like for like sales for the quarter to the end of May due to the impact of the pandemic.

The results were expected to be weak as the majority of the Premier Inn estate was closed during the period, but investors were hoping for a more upbeat outlook.

Instead the company said that although it said it had seen 'good demand' for the summer, it was 'too early to draw any conclusions from its booking trajectory.'

Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspaper publisher Reach slumped 14% to 76.2p on announcing that it would axe 550 jobs, or 12% of its workforce, as the Covid-19 crisis speeds up a structural shift in the media sector towards online channels.

Reach announced the layoffs while reporting a 28% slump in second-quarter revenue.

Online fashion seller Boohoo plunged 12% to 261.4p after ASOS and Zalando pulled all of its ranges in the wake of the modern slavery allegations that broker over the weekend.

Also on the losing side was Micro Focus which posted a $1 billion loss for the half year to 30 April due to a $922 million goodwill impairment charge for the 'increased economic uncertainty' caused by the pandemic and the potential disruption to sales and contract renewals.

Shares in the software firm were the worst performers in the FTSE 250, plunging nearly 20% to 352.8p.

Cycling and motoring products firm Halfords posted forecast-beating profits for the full year to 3 April thanks to tight cost control and an improvement in margins.

Pre-tax earnings for the period were £55.9 million, just shy of the previous year's £58.8 million, as cycling sales increased by 2.3% on a like for like basis and even the autocentre business grew sales by 1.4% on a similar basis.

However, the shares bombed, falling 14% to 152p after strong gains at the end of last week including a 10% pop on Thursday.

BUCKING THE TREND

Trading platform Plus500 also delivered a forecast-busting trading update with half year revenues up almost threefold to $564 million against $148 million in the same period a year ago.

The firm put the growth down to consistently high levels of customer trading, thanks to continued market volatility, and the onboarding of 'a significant number of new customers at an attractive cost.'

It also confirmed the appointment of David Zruia as permanent chief executive after he assumed the role on an interim basis in April. Investors applauded the results, pushing the shares up 3% to a new high of £13.79.

Athletic wear retailer JD Sports Fashion reversed earlier gains to slip around 1% to 668.4p after it posted record results for the year to 1 February with revenues up 30% to £6.1 billion and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up 28% to £623 million.

The firm gave little detail on current trading except to say that online sales had been 'resilient' while initial footfall had been weaker in malls and shopping centres 'as customers remain nervous about the risks associated with densely occupied enclosed spaces.'

COMPANY WRAP

Waste treatment firm Renewi was another gainer, up 4% to 27.05p after first quarter trading exceeded management expectations as waste volumes continued to improve in the three months to June.

The firm estimated the impact to earnings from the pandemic of €12 million rather than its budgeted €20 million thanks to 'swift cost action' and lower debt levels.

Water and climate management solutions group Polypipe dropped nearly 7% at 419p after it said it was planning to cut around 250 jobs, or 8% of its workforce, citing the lingering impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the British economy.

Marine services provider James Fisher and Sons recovered earlier losses to stay flat at £14 despite a 10% fall in first-half revenue pinned on weaker oil and gas markets.

Photo booth and laundry services provider Photo-Me International nudged 1% higher to 54.7p as it booked a 96% slump in annual profit.

Online women's fashion retailer Sosandar leapt 13.5% to 11.75p, having substantial narrowed its first-quarter losses, thanks to a 54% jump in sales and lower marketing spend.


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