(Sharecast News) - Stocks were pummeled on Tuesday as concerns mounted that the rising rate of Covid-19 infections might force the government into tightening lockdown measures further, on top of a day fraught with nervousness around the ongoing Brexit talks with Brussels.
Little surprise then that the cyclicals areas of the market underperformed - alongside aerospace due to the jitters around the pandemic - and whereas the FTSE 100 was propped up by weakness in the pound, the FTSE 250 slid 1.52% to 17,891.01.
The economic impact of that was underscored by a weaker-than-expected reading for UK unemployment.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the average unemployment rate in Britain jumped from 4.3% for over the three months to July to 4.5% in August (consensus: 4.3%).
As Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics explained, that was entirely due to ONS rectifying changes in the sampling method caused by the pandemic.
Another result of those sampling changes was that the three-month rolling measure of employment was revised to stand 1.5% below its peak in March, "greatly exceeding the mere 0.5% shortfall in July under the old methodology".
Hence, defensives such as Utilities were sought out.
Shares of grocers were higher as well, benefitting not only from the prospect of extended lockdowns but also from fresh data showing solid demand growth.
According to Kantar, growth of take-home grocery sales accelerated to a 10.6% clip over the four weeks ending on 4 October.
Alcohol sales were boosted by an additional £261m in September in anticipation of the 10pm curfew for pubs and bars, Kantar said.
Online sales meanwhile zipped ahead at a year-on-year pace of 76% with sales at Ocado up by 41.9% in September.
Top performing sectors so far today
Electricity 7,873.40 +1.41%
Food & Drug Retailers 4,214.79 +1.06%
Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology 17,534.29 +0.28%
Oil Equipment, Services & Distribution 3,966.93 +0.18%
Personal Goods 40,252.13 +0.14%
Bottom performing sectors so far today
Automobiles & Parts 2,675.41 -3.08%
Aerospace and Defence 3,093.20 -2.72%
Life Insurance 5,986.54 -2.65%
Banks 1,906.81 -2.52%
Industrial Transportation 2,056.20 -2.40%
LONDON MARKET CLOSE: FTSE 100 bounces back, led by miners and CRH