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FTSE 100 Tumbles Amid Escalation In US-China Tensions

U.K. stocks fell sharply on Friday, with rising U.S.-China tensions and weak retail sales data denting investor sentiment.

U.S.-China tensions are flaring on a new front after China moved to impose a new security law on Hong Kong at the opening of its annual parliamentary session.

U.S. President Donald Trump promised to respond "very strongly" once details emerge, while some U.S. senators are reportedly introducing a bipartisan bill that would impose sanctions on any entity involved in curbing Hong Kong's autonomy.

Meanwhile, U.K. retail sales declined at a record pace in April as many stores were temporarily closed to contain the spread of coronavirus, data published by the Office for National Statistics showed.

Retail sales volume declined 18.1 percent on a monthly basis, which was the biggest monthly fall on record. Economists had forecast sales to decrease 16 percent after falling 5.2 percent in March.

On a yearly basis, retail sales volume fell 22.6 percent versus March's 5.8 percent decrease and economists' forecast of 22.2 percent.

The benchmark FTSE 100 dropped 72 points, or 1.21 percent, to 5,942 after losing 0.9 percent in the previous session.

Asia-exposed HSBC Holdings Plc lost 5 percent and Prudential Plc plunged 7 percent on concerns that Beijing's proposed national security law for Hong Kong could stoke social unrest and erode its appeal as a financial hub.

United Utilities slumped 6 percent after posting a lower net profit for fiscal 2020.

Spectris, a supplier of precision instrumentation and controls, lost 6.6 percent after reporting a 20 percent fall in sales in the first four months of the year.

Luxury fashion house Burberry Group advanced 2.4 percent after the company said there are signs of a rebound in China, the industry's key market.

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