UK shares fell on Thursday due to fears around the Omicron coronavirus variant, with the United States confirming its first case of the new strain, while warnings about inflation from major central banks further added to the downbeat mood.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index declined 0.8% at 0805 GMT, diverging from its Asian peers, while the domestically focussed mid-cap index fell 0.9%.
Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline added 0.7% after a pre-clinical analysis of the antibody-based COVID-19 therapy it is developing with U.S. partner Vir indicated that the drug also works against the new Omicron variant.
BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said on Wednesday that the economic impact from COVID-19 still remains strong, while noting the inflationary pressure from supply chain difficulties and increased demand for consumer goods.
Johnson Matthey and Darktrace dropped 1.2% and 1.0% respectively after index manager FTSE Russell confirmed that the companies are set to leave Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index.
Halfords Group Plc rose 5.4% after saying it would buy Axle Group for 62 million pounds ($82.54 million) as the cycle retailer shifts focus to its motoring services business.