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UK declares threat to public health

China, Wuhan and neighbouring cities excluded, is beginning to come back on line Monday with businesses reopening after more than two weeks of closures. In the fenced off parts of the country the worst may not be over yet with a peak expected towards the end of February. But local stock market indexes are reflecting confidence that the worst of the spread has been contained. 

In London cautious words from the UK government pushed the FTSE lower as the UK declared that the coronavirus now poses a serious and imminent treat to public health. Airline easyJet was among the FTSE's top fallers as was Premier Inn owner Whitbread. 

NMC Health gets potential suitor 

New York-based investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts made a tentative approach for the embattled health operator NMC Health, helping lift the stock 8.5% this morning. The only surprising thing about the move is that a suitor for the company which plummeted from a peak of 3,059 last year to 678 in December took this long. The scathing report published in December by short-seller Muddy Waters cost the firm more than 70% in terms of share value and numerous attempts to wipe the record clean yielded only minor improvement in the share price. 

KKR reportedly made no official proposal or discussed a possible offer but when an offer comes in either from KKR or from other interested investment firms it is likely to be close to a bargain basement price compared to where the company has traded over the last five years. 

Pound bounces back despite trade talk concerns

The pound managed to regain ground lost earlier this morning on concerns that the trade negotiations between the UK and the EU might fail over demands for fishing rights in Britain’s waters. Sterling is up 0.4% against the euro and slightly stronger against the dollar, trading just above 1.29.
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