FTSE Close: Stocks slip as China woes bite

The FTSE 100 closed lower on Wednesday, down 31.78 points (0.4%) to 7,423.46, extending losses for a third straight day as China-exposed stocks struggled amid concerns over a respiratory illness outbreak in China.

The FTSE 250 bucked the downward trend, edging up 80.58 points (0.4%) to 18,467.58.

Asia-focused insurer Prudential, miner Anglo American and lender HSBC, heavyweights on the FTSE 100, fell 3.5%, 3.0% and 2.0% respectively as stocks with Chinese exposure came under pressure. The spread of a respiratory illness in China is “causing nervousness”, evoking memories of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Gold miner Fresnillo shone among the top FTSE 100 risers, up 5.6% tracking bullion prices higher. JD Sports added 5.7%, rallying after US peer Foot Locker posted better-than-expected earnings.

On the flipside, inkjet printing firm Xaar plunged 24% after downbeat 2024 guidance. It expects lower revenue and profit next year amid weaker demand. Halfords also tanked 19% as the cycling and auto parts retailer warned recent “volatile” trading patterns made forecasts challenging.