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London close: Stocks mixed as ex-divs drag on FTSE

By Josh White

Date: Thursday 16 May 2024

London close: Stocks mixed as ex-divs drag on FTSE

(Sharecast News) - London stocks ended mixed on Thursday, following a flurry of corporate news and a focus on US unemployment figures.

The FTSE 100 dipped 0.08% to close at 8,438.65, impacted by ex-dividend shares, while the FTSE 250 saw a modest rise of 0.23%, closing at 20,822.84.

In currency markets, sterling was last down 0.06% against the dollar, trading at $1.2678, while it inched up 0.03% on the euro to change hands at €1.1659.

"The FTSE 100 finds itself unchanged on the day as the close looms, as gains for HSBC are countered by losses for Shell, while further down the weightings BT's 15% gain, adding four points to the index is neatly countered by Sage's sharp drop," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

"Overall the index continues to consolidate around its previous highs, and even yesterday's US CPI data had only a moderately-supportive effect."

Beauchamp noted that oil had been volatile so far this month, although it looked like prices were forming a low.

"The calming of tensions in the Middle East removed one driver of higher prices, but a weakening dollar and hopes of stronger oil demand in the second half have helped buyers to muster up the strength to support the price around current levels."

Jobless claims fall less than expected in the US

In a quiet day for UK and European economic data, US jobless claims and manufacturing activity took centre stage during the afternoon.

According to the US Department of Labor, initial unemployment claims fell by 10,000 to 222,000 for the week ended 11 May, surpassing economists' expectations of 220,000.

However, the four-week moving average of claims rose by 2,500 to 217,750.

Continuing claims, which cover the week ending 4 May, increased by 13,000 to 1.794 million.

Meanwhile, factory activity in the US mid-Atlantic region slowed more than anticipated in May.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's manufacturing index dropped from 15.5 in April to 4.5, below the expected decline to 8.

A significant decrease in new orders, from 12.2 to -7.9, contributed to this slowdown.

The prices paid sub-index also decreased, from 23.0 to 18.7, while the employment sub-index showed a slight improvement, rising from -10.7 to -7.9.

In Asia, Japan's economy unexpectedly contracted by 2% on an annualised basis in the first quarter, driven by reduced consumer spending, lower corporate investment, and falling exports.

It was a larger contraction than the forecasted 1.2% decline, casting doubt on the Bank of Japan's plans to raise interest rates.

The country's economic challenges were exacerbated by issues at Toyota's subsidiary Daihatsu, which faced a government-ordered production halt due to falsified safety test results, and a devastating earthquake near Tokyo on New Year's Day.

Additionally, revised data for the fourth quarter of last year indicated flat GDP, marking nine months of stagnant growth.

Ex-dividends drag on top-flight index, BT jumps on savings plans

On London's equity markets, BP was down 1.3%, GSK lost 1.9%, Kingfisher was off 2.75%, Shell slipped 1.4%, Tesco slid 1.13%, Bunzl weakened 2.12%, and Essentra closed behind by 1.2%, as they all traded without entitlement to the dividend.

Sage Group slumped 8.81%, despite reporting solid first-half results, after it trimmed its annual revenue guidance.

EasyJet fell 5.57% following the announcement that chief executive officer Johan Lundgren would step down in early 2025, succeeded by current finance chief Kenton Jarvis.

The announcement coincided with a narrower first-half pre-tax loss of £350m, down from £411m a year earlier.

Wizz Air Holdings lost 3.52%, while ConvaTec Group declined 3.08%, even after it maintained top-level guidance for 2024.

The fall was attributed to reduced growth forecasts in its advanced wound care division due to "short-term uncertainty."

On the upside, BT Group surged 16.7%, despite a 31% drop in annual profits, driven by plans to save £3bn annually by the end of the decade.

Watches of Switzerland Group jumped 18.41%, buoyed by a 4% rise in sales in the final quarter of its financial year and a "cautiously optimistic" outlook.

Future saw one of the largest increases, rocketing 19.89% on news of a £45m share buyback, despite reporting a fall in half-year revenues and profits.

Elsewhere, Auction Technology Group added 15.45% and Helios Towers jumped 11.96%, following their own results announcements.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 8,438.65 -0.08%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,822.84 0.23%
techMARK (TASX) 4,792.16 0.14%

FTSE 100 - Risers

BT Group (BT.A) 132.60p 17.19%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,140.00p 3.45%
Prudential (PRU) 827.40p 2.94%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,649.00p 2.30%
Diploma (DPLM) 4,210.00p 2.13%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 525.50p 2.04%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) 2,284.00p 1.96%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 77.52p 1.87%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 282.20p 1.80%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 544.60p 1.76%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Sage Group (SGE) 1,084.50p -9.44%
easyJet (EZJ) 497.70p -5.99%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 255.00p -4.06%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 176.95p -2.80%
Kingfisher (KGF) 261.60p -2.75%
Croda International (CRDA) 4,751.00p -2.70%
Pearson (PSON) 958.60p -2.62%
Entain (ENT) 764.20p -2.53%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,983.00p -2.22%
Bunzl (BNZL) 3,044.00p -2.12%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 405.00p 19.89%
Future (FUTR) 1,030.00p 18.39%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 564.00p 14.63%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 123.60p 11.96%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 2,670.00p 5.53%
Diversified Energy Company (DEC) 1,142.00p 3.72%
OSB Group (OSB) 467.40p 3.64%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,173.00p 3.53%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 203.40p 3.46%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 225.40p 3.11%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Spectris (SXS) 3,148.00p -4.66%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,116.00p -4.60%
Tritax Eurobox (GBP) (EBOX) 59.60p -3.87%
Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust (ORIT) 72.50p -3.72%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 83.50p -3.48%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 573.00p -3.05%
Grainger (GRI) 264.00p -2.94%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 372.20p -2.87%
SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (SEIT) 65.00p -2.84%
Indivior (INDV) 1,352.00p -2.38%


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