StockMarketWire.com - London's FTSE 100 index headed into negative territory in early trading on Thursday (24 September) amid growing concerns of a further Covid-19 lockdown.

Traders saw market updates from major blue chips including Cineworld, Smiths Group, and United Utilities who all stated that the coronavirus pandemic had eaten into profits. The footsie was trading at 5,838.32, down more than 1%.

Leisure group Cineworld noted that performance had improved since the reopening of its cinemas but warned that it was likely to breach its debt agreements.

It also noted that further government shutdowns could delay movie releases. A heavy investor sell-off in the stock ensued, with the share price down more than 16%, trading at 40.76p.

Meanwhile, Smiths Group, said that government measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus had hit its profitability too, with additional resources deployed so it could maintain uninterrupted service levels during lockdown. The engineering group's share price was down nearly 7% in early trading, at £13.55.

For United Utilities, the lockdown resulted in lower water consumption by businesses, clipping revenues by 5% and likely leading to a fall in underlying operating profits when it declares its results on 25 November. Despite this, the company's share price held firm, ticking up slightly by 0.42% at 855p.

Elsewhere, Military equipment maker Avon Rubber confirmed it won a sole-source contract worth up to $93 million to develop and supply the US Army with its integrated head protection system.

Market tongues were also wagging about news that roadside rescue group,the AA, had received 'strong interest' from a consortium backed by TowerBrook Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus to buy the company.

At agriculture and engineering group, Carr's, it was announced that Hugh Pelham will succeed Tim Davies as chief executive officer, and food tech business Big Dish signed a letter of intent with an investment group for a $5m investment.

Roadside assistance company AA was up 2% after confirming that it had received 'strong interest' from a consortium backed by TowerBrook Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus to buy the company.



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