(Sharecast News) - London stocks had extended losses by midday on Thursday amid renewed concerns about the coronavirus, as investors also digested a Cabinet reshuffle.
The FTSE 100 was down 1.6% at 7,417.40.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "Just as the markets seemed to break free of their coronavirus fears, an alarming spike in the number of deaths and new cases sent Europe lower.
"Arguably the main driver of Wednesday's growth was the hopes that the outbreak in China was being contained. Well, changes to the way in which authorities calculate figures surrounding the illness revealed a worse situation than first thought, with a 242 person jump in the number of deaths and a 15,000 surge in total cases. Understandably this spooked investors."
On home shores, Prime Minister Boris Johnson eliminated dissenters from his Cabinet in a reshuffle, firing Andrea Leadsom as Business Secretary and the popular Julian Smith from the Northern Ireland portfolio. There were also reports that Sajid Javid had quit as finance minister.
Earlier, the latest survey form the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed that house prices rose in January at the fast pace in nearly three years as December's election boosted sentiment.
The net balance of surveyors reporting that house prices had risen over the last three months increased to +17 in January from -2 in December, coming well above consensus expectations of +3.
RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: "The latest survey results point to a continued improvement in market sentiment over the month, building on a noticeable pick-up in the immediate aftermath of the General Election.
"The rise in new sales instructions coming onto the market is a noteworthy and much needed development, given the lack of fresh listings over the past few years had pushed stock levels to record lows.
"It remains to be seen how long this newfound market momentum is sustained for, and political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year. But, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next twelve months."
In equity markets, shares of British Gas owner Centrica tumbled as it blamed the UK government's price cap, nuclear power station outages and lower gas prices for a 35% slump in annual profits.
Barclays was weaker on news that the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England are investigating past links between the bank's chief executive Jes Staley and the dead American paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The news came alongside the bank's full-year results, which showed a 25% increase in reported pre-tax profit.
Gambling stocks such as William Hill, GVC and Playtech were under the cosh following a Financial Times report that the industry regulator will consider limiting the amounts customers can bet online.
Beazley was dented by a downgrade to 'hold' from 'buy' at Jefferies.
On the upside, Coca-Cola HBC fizzed higher after well-received full-year results, while Relx gained as it reported a rise in full-year profit and revenue and hiked its dividend.
Lancashire Holdings was on the rise as it posted a jump in full-year profit and an improvement in its combined ratio.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,417.40 -1.55%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,618.47 -0.80%
techMARK (TASX) 4,139.79 -0.83%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,856.00p 2.62%
Relx plc (REL) 2,068.00p 1.42%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 5,394.00p 1.12%
Ferguson (FERG) 7,570.00p 0.72%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,850.80p 0.64%
BAE Systems (BA.) 659.80p 0.58%
SSE (SSE) 1,627.50p 0.18%
Experian (EXPN) 2,779.00p 0.07%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 856.60p 0.02%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,269.00p -0.16%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Centrica (CNA) 71.76p -15.36%
NMC Health (NMC) 792.20p -7.26%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,136.50p -6.04%
BP (BP.) 457.90p -3.52%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,950.40p -3.49%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 894.00p -3.41%
Carnival (CCL) 3,097.00p -3.37%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,941.80p -3.30%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 319.40p -3.07%
Informa (INF) 759.60p -3.06%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 1,724.00p 5.83%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 314.00p 3.29%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,274.00p 2.91%
Redrow (RDW) 808.00p 2.15%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 788.50p 2.14%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 313.00p 1.95%
Trainline (TRN) 526.00p 1.94%
Fresnillo (FRES) 658.60p 1.82%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 134.45p 1.66%
Future (FUTR) 1,216.00p 1.50%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
William Hill (WMH) 185.35p -5.46%
GVC Holdings (GVC) 884.60p -5.05%
Playtech (PTEC) 350.30p -4.58%
Finablr (FIN) 83.00p -4.10%
Ascential (ASCL) 365.00p -4.05%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,393.50p -3.60%
Man Group (EMG) 150.05p -3.57%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 123.50p -3.44%
RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 3,166.00p -3.42%
Sanne Group (SNN) 639.00p -3.18%
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