(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London opened lower on Thursday as fears over the possible reimposition of coronavirus lockdowns spooked investors, while airlines were in the red after Ryanair cut its planned winter capacity.
The large-cap FTSE 100 index was down 111.71 points, or 1.9%, at 5,823.35. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was down 207.78 points, or 1.2%, at 17,742.63. The AIM All-Share index was down 0.6% at 975.68.
The Cboe UK 100 index was off 1.5% at 581.59. The Cboe 250 was down 0.9% at 15,040.56, and the Cboe Small Companies down 0.1% at 9,432.45.
In mainland Europe, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 1.2% while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt was down 2.2%.
France on Wednesday became the latest European country to toughen anti-coronavirus measures, imposing a strict curfew in Paris and eight other cities from Saturday.
In addition, new cases of coronavirus infections in Germany have soared to 6,638 in the past 24 hours, official data showed, reaching a daily level not seen since the start of the pandemic. The alarming jump in numbers came just hours after Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the leaders of Germany's 16 federal states to agree tougher restrictions designed to slow the spread of the contagion.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also under increasing pressure to impose more stringent measures to cut spiralling infection rates in England, including a two-week "circuit-breaker" lockdown.
"A series of tougher Covid-19 restrictions across Europe sent the markets spiralling on Thursday, one of investors' regular reminders that, however much they try and deny it, the pandemic is still very much a thing," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
In the FTSE 100, Just Eat Takeaway.com was the only stock to open in the green, up 0.1%. The online takeaway platform was extending gains from Wednesday after reporting a big rise in orders. The stock ended up 6.4% on Wednesday.
At the other end of the large caps, International Consolidated Airlines was down 5.7%. The British Airways parent was suffering a negative read-across after Irish carrier Ryanair Holdings said it will slash more flights this winter due to coronavirus restrictions.
Ryanair was down 3.7%.
In the FTSE 250, budget airline easyJet was the worst performer, down 6.1%, while holiday airline Jet2, formerly Dart Group, was down 3.2%.
Ryanair said forward bookings have "materially" weakened in November and December due to increased flight restrictions imposed by EU governments. It will close its bases in Cork and Shannon in Ireland and in Toulouse in France this winter as Covid-19 continues to hurt the travel sector.
In light of the weaker bookings, the Irish carrier further reduced its winter schedule, from November to March - taking capacity down to 40% from 60% of prior year. Ryanair said with the greatly reduced winter capacity and load factors of around 70%, it now expects full year traffic to fall to 38 million passengers.
The budget airline said this guidance could be further revised downwards if EU government continue to "mismanage air travel and impose more lockdowns this winter".
Pearson was down 3.0% after Barclays cut the education publisher to Underweight from Equal Weight.
The pound was quoted at USD1.3000 early Thursday, lower from USD1.3029 at the London equities close on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, EU leaders are to take stock of the talks with the UK on a post-Brexit trade deal amid "frustration" in London at the slow progress.
Ahead of the latest EU summit in Brussels, Johnson voiced his "disappointment" that they had not been able to move forward more quickly on negotiations.
The UK PM had previously said that he would walk away from the negotiations unless there was an agreement by the time of the two-day gathering in the Belgian capital, starting Thursday.
However, in a call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday evening, Johnson said he would "reflect" on the outcome of the summit before making a decision.
Meanwhile, von der Leyen and Michel reiterated that while the EU still wanted a deal, it could not be at "any price".
The euro was priced at USD1.1755, flat from USD1.1760. Against the yen, the dollar was quoted at JPY105.25, up from JPY105.07.
The Japanese Nikkei 225 index ended down 0.5%. In China, the Shanghai Composite closed down 0.2%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is down 1.2%.
The rise in Chinese consumer prices slowed for a second successive month in September, official data showed as pork supplies bounce back from the devastating African swine fever while farms recovered from flooding.
The consumer price index - a key gauge of retail inflation - rose 1.7% last month from a year ago, compared with a 2.4% reading in August, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
In commodities, Brent oil was trading at USD43.33 Thursday morning, up from USD43.18 at the close Wednesday. Gold changed hands at USD1,898.73 an ounce, down from USD1,909.80.
The economic events calendar on Thursday has US jobless claims and import and export price indices are due at 1330 BST.
By Arvind Bhunjun; email@example.com
Copyright 2020 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.