If there was hope the FTSE 100 could pick itself back up after Thursday’s big stumble then Friday has only brought disappointment as the index slipped back modestly to trade below the 6,000 mark for the first time since late July,” says AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.
“Yesterday’s sell-off was accompanied by a plunge in oil prices, with Brent Crude back below $45 per barrel, which is notable given the commodity’s price action acted as a canary in the coalmine for the big correction in March.
“It feels like the market is gradually coming to the realisation that the world is going to have to live with Covid-19 for longer as countries which have emerged from lockdown experience localised flare-ups and a general increase in infections.
“What would really unnerve investors is if any of these countries had to return to a full nationwide lockdown again.
“The pound continued its strong showing against the dollar following news that UK retail sales were up 3.6% in July – materially better than the 2% increase which had been forecast and up 3% on the pre-pandemic levels posted in February.
“Clothing store sales were up for the month itself but are still down more than a quarter from February – highlighting the scale of the challenge for high street stalwarts like Marks & Spencer and Next.”