London’s top listed companies marked their worst month since March as virus fears and the looming US election sparked a week-long stock market sell-off.
Despite closing almost flat after choppy trading on Friday, the FTSE 100 chalked up a monthly slide of 4.9pc – the sharpest fall since the record-breaking rout in March.
The blue-chip index fell every day in its worst week since June, knocking £72bn off its total value.
The falls coincided with third-quarter results for several of Britain’s biggest companies, producing better than expected performances from heavyweights such as Royal Dutch Shell and Lloyds Banking Group.
Joshua Mahoney, senior markets analyst at IG, said traders remained “firmly focused on the here and now”, despite a string of bumper third-quarter GDP figures from across the eurozone during Friday’s session.
The mood was set overnight by a mixed set of updates from the top US tech companies, with Apple withholding guidance and Facebook warning of a slowdown in its North American user growth.
Asian markets fell sharply following the results, with Japan’s Nikkei dropping 1.5pc and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index 2pc.
Wall Street dropped heavily. All indices ended trading in the red, led by tech-heavy Nasdaq which closed down 2.5pc. Twitter, which missed estimates on user numbers, fell by a fifth.
European markets wavered throughout the session, with the pan-continental benchmark Stoxx 600 dropping as much as 2.9pc. Sentiment slowly improved, however, and it closed up 0.3pc.
The CAC in Paris rose 0.5pc although the Dax in Frankfurt slipped 0.4pc.
Bank of America investment strategist Sebastian Raedler warned the second wave of Covid-19 infections threatens to worsen stock performances across the continent, with further danger from a “possible weakening in global growth” sparked by the US’s renewed outbreak.