The FTSE 100 slipped and European markets struggled for direction as US President Donald Trump returned to the White House after being hospitalised with coronavirus.
The blue-chip index started the morning with modest gains, edging 0.1 per cent higher in early trading. Yet it slipped into the red to stand 0.2 per cent lower shortly after midday. The mid-cap FTSE 250 climbed 0.5 per cent.
Trump returned to the White House on Monday after a three-night hospital stay and said he felt “real good”. However, one of his doctors cautioned that he may not be in the clear yet.
Markets slipped when Trump said he had coronavirus last week. Investors said it added a new layer of uncertainty to November’s already chaotic presidential election.
US stocks were set to open slightly lower today, according to futures prices. Along with global markets, they climbed sharply yesterday on the news that Trump would leave hospital.
Germany’s Dax was flat despite a “remarkable” rise in factory orders. France’s CAC 40 was up 0.2 per cent but the continent-wide Stoxx 600 slipped 0.2 per cent.
David Madden, market analyst at trading platform CMC Markets, said: “Stocks have handed back some of yesterday’s gains.
“President Trump has returned to the White House, but doctors cautioned that he is not out of the woods yet health wise.”
The dollar was roughly flat against a basket of other currencies. Sterling was down 0.4 per cent to $1.293, however, with economic fears dragging on the currency.
Hard-hit FTSE 100 stocks stage recovery
Some of the companies that have been hit hardest by the pandemic rose sharply on the FTSE 100 after reports said the government is planning to introduce airport coronavirus testing.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps is expected to announce a trial testing scheme on Thursday as part of proposals to kick-start international travel, The Times reported.
It boosted jet engine-maker Rolls Royce, which jumped 9.4 per cent. British Airways-owner IAG climbed 3.4 per cent and cruise group Carnival rose 3.5 per cent.
Outside the FTSE, Wagamama-owner The Restaurant Group climbed 4.8 per cent after reporting improved like-for-like sales figures for the period since the start of July.
Yet there were plenty of fallers weighing on the FTSE 100, including Ocado, which was down 3.6 per cent, and Rentokil, which slipped 3.2 per cent.
Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at currency firm Oanda, said there is “a lot of downside risk that may hurt these markets over the next month”.
“The UK has a possible no-deal Brexit to contend with on top of it all,” he added.