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Company News

UPDATE 2-London stocks fall as concerns over virus resurgence weigh

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)

* Shell rises on upbeat quarterly profit, dividend increase

* Second national lockdown in Britain not inevitable - minister

* StanChart warns profit goal pushed back, shares fall

* FTSE 100 flat, FTSE 250 down 0.4% (Adds comment; updates to close)

Oct 29 (Reuters) - London stocks fell on Thursday as concerns that a resurgence in coronavirus cases might derail a fragile economic recovery, offsetting a clutch of positive earnings from Royal Dutch Shell and Lloyds Bank.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended flat in choppy trading, with oil major Royal Dutch Shell Plc gaining 3.6% after it posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and increased its dividend.

Lloyds Banking Group Plc added 2.3% after the domestic lender posted a forecast-beating quarterly profit, boosted by a home-loan boom.

After rising as much as 0.6% in the morning trade, the domestically focussed FTSE 250 ended 0.4% lower, dragged down by aero and retailer stocks.

“Because we’re now heading into Q4 which looks much more uncertain in terms of back to lockdowns and restrictions, people can be much more wary about buying into equities when we’re going into a second wave, the duration and scope of which we don’t know anything about at the moment,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

The UK market has come under pressure this week on concerns that an accelerating second wave of infections could prompt more drastic lockdown restrictions. Both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 are set for their biggest weekly declines since early June.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick said a second national lockdown in Britain was not inevitable and the government will do everything to avoid one, even as a study by Imperial College showed England’s COVID-19 infections doubled every nine days.

In company news, BT Group Plc reversed course to close 2.5% lower after Britain’s biggest fixed-line and mobile operator said profits probably wouldn’t get back to pre-pandemic levels until 2022-23.

Standard Chartered Plc tumbled 7.7% after the lender warned it would take longer to hit a key profitability target due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Shailesh Kuber)

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