Tobacco firms lead FTSE 100 lower

Shares in telecoms group BT fell 1.8% after it took a £225m charge related to its Italian accounting scandal.

BT is paying the money to Deutsche Telekom and Orange to avoid legal action over the issue.

The two firms now hold stakes in BT as part of the deal that saw them sell the EE mobile network to the UK company.

The FTSE 100 closed down 1% at 7,368.37. Main faller was British American Tobacco, down 6.8% after US proposals to cut cigarette nicotine.

Second biggest faller was fellow cigarette producer Imperial Brands, down 3.79%.

British Airways owner IAG had a turbulent day, and closed 0.08% lower. The airline group reported a strong rise in half-year profits, despite being hit by costs related to BA’s computer failure in May.

Barclays shares also went into reverse as investors digested its half-year results, dropping 1.68%. Costs related to the sale of part of its Africa business pushed it into a loss, but once these were stripped out pre-tax profits were up 13%.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.1% against the dollar to $1.3076 and fell 0.2% against the euro to 1.1171 euros.

AstraZeneca drags down FTSE 100

Drugmaker AstraZeneca has seen its share price plummet more than 15% after announcing disappointing results.

The firm said first-quarter revenue fell 10% to $5.05bn (£3.84bn).

It also reported a major setback in trials of a new lung cancer drug therapy.

The company was by far the biggest loser on the benchmark FTSE 100 share index, which was down 9.31 points, or 0.12%, to 7,443.01 at close on Thursday.

Top gainer on the index was drinks giant Diageo, which rose nearly 6% after reporting higher full-year sales and profits.

The maker of Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka reported sales of £12.05bn for the year ending 30 June, a rise of 4% on an organic basis, while operating profit rose to £3.6bn.

Mining firm Anglo American also made strong gains, adding 3.22% after saying it was resuming dividend payments six months early on the back of healthy interim results.

In the currency market, the pound edged lower against the dollar, down 0.40% at $1.3069. Against the euro, the pound was 0.29% higher at 1.12040 euros.

ITV shares help lift FTSE 100

Shares in ITV were the top gainers on the FTSE 100 after the broadcaster released its latest trading statement.

Although advertising revenue fell, the performance was at the top end of ITV’s guidance. ITV shares added 2.44%.

London’s FTSE 100 share index was up 17.50 points, or 0.24%, at 7,452.32.

Shares in business software firm Sage fell 1.21%. It announced the purchase of US cloud accountancy firm Intacct for £654m. Sage also said third quarter sales rose 6%.

Shares in Acacia were down another 6.63% today, making them the biggest losers on the FTSE 250 index.

Earlier this week, the company said that it had been presented with a $190bn tax bill by authorities in Tanzania.

It is being accused of not paying sufficient taxes over the last ten years – a charge the company denies. Shares are down 40% over the last four trading sessions.

In the currency market, the pound edged higher against the dollar, up 0.17% at $1.3047. Against the euro the pound was also 0.29% higher at 1.1218 euros.

U.K. stocks higher, pound falls, retail sales beat

U.K. stocks were higher Thursday as the pound fell despite retail sales beating estimates.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.49% at 05:30 ET.
The pound was off 0.44% at $1.2967 after briefly paring losses after the sales data.
The yield on the 10-year gilt steady at 1.2% mark.
U.K. retail sales in June were up 0.6% from May when they fell 1.1%. Sales were forecast to rise 0.4%.
Sales were up an annual 2.9% after a rise of 2.5% in May.
Core retail sales were up 0.9% month-on-month against a forecast rise of 0.5%.
An erosion of real wages due to higher inflation has raised concerns about personal consumption.
Inflation unexpectedly eased to 2.6% in June, dampening talk of a possible U.K. rate hike.
(LON:EasyJet ) was off 5.43% but off lows for the session after revenues per seat fell 8.2% in the June quarter.
The airline warned about the potential impact of a weaker pound on earnings.

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Reckitt leads FTSE up on food business sale

he FTSE 100 edged up on Wednesday, helped by a buoyant consumer goods sector after Reckitt Benckiser sold its food business to a U.S. company, while disappointing earnings reports sent mid-caps lower.

The FTSE 100 (FTSE) gained 0.1 percent, with household goods and food sectors boosting the index while miners weighed.

Reckitt Benckiser led gainers after saying it would sell its food business to U.S. spice and herbs company McCormick (NYSE:MKC) & Co Inc for $4.2 billion.

Reckitt’s shares (L:RB) were up 1.4 percent at a three-week high on the deal.

“By 2020, RB should be one of the fastest growing names in (the) global staples (sector), with superior returns and cash generation, in our view,” said Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analysts.

Royal Mail (L:RMG) gave back some of yesterday’s strong gains, falling to the bottom of the blue-chip list, down 2.4 percent.

(L:EZJ) and British Airways owner IAG (L:ICAG) were among top blue-chip losers, down 1.7 to 2.2 percent.

While there were few notable releases from blue-chip companies, earnings drove strong moves on the mid-cap index.

Qinetiq (L:QQ) led mid-caps lower, down 8 percent after the defence and aerospace manufacturer said it had seen slower than expected orders in its EMEA services unit.

Just Eat (L:JE) shares fell 6.6 percent, among top European losers and on course for their worst day in six months. A trader linked the move to a finance ministry crackdown on extra card fees charged by companies from takeaway food apps to airlines.

Motoring group AA (L:AAAA) led mid-caps, hitting a two-month high after Barclays (LON:BARC) initiated coverage with an overweight rating. Analysts at the bank said they expected cash flow generation to pick up.

“From early 2018 AA should be able to integrate its vast array of different business for the first time in its 112-year history.”

Packaging company RPC (L:RPC) was also among top mid-cap gainers, up 3.9 percent at a four-month high after its first quarter revenue came in ahead of last year, helped by acquisitions and favourable currency movements.

The firm also started its first share buyback programme, of up to 100 million pounds.


FTSE edges lower, IG soars after results

British shares edged down on Tuesday after falls in financial stocks outweighed the effect of easing inflation and positive earnings updates from Royal Mail (LON:RMG) and British Land.

The FTSE 100 ended down 0.2 percent but outperformed heavy losses among European stocks thanks to a weaker pound, which benefits major exporting companies.

Sterling dropped as investors adjusted interest rate expectations after inflation unexpectedly eased in June for the first time since October, surprising the market and adding to the likelihood the Bank of England will keep interest rates on hold in August.

“The Bank of England’s rhetoric has taken an increasingly hawkish tone in recent weeks,” Hargreaves Lansdown (LON:HRGV) senior economist Ben Brettell said.

“However if today’s pullback in inflation marks the start of a sustained decline, the pressure on the Bank to raise rates will ease.”

Mid-cap IG Group soared more than 16 percent and was the top European gainer after the online spreadbetting company reported a growing client base and rising profit despite quiet markets.

“We regard these as very solid results in a year where market volatility has been at a multi-year low,” Shore Capital analysts said.

Greater market volatility tends to bolster trading companies’ profits as investors turn investment portfolios around more frequently.

Britain’s second-largest listed property developer British Land was a top blue-chip performer after it announced a 300 million pound share buyback plan, providing more evidence of a pick-up in share buybacks among European corporates. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analysts last week predicted this trend would accelerate.

“Given the significant discount to net asset value (NAV) at which the shares are trading, this would be NAV accretive with the scale of enhancement subject to the amount of share bought and at what price,” analysts at Stifel said.

A flurry of mail activity around the British election helped Royal Mail to perform more strongly in its first quarter, sending its shares up 3.1 percent to join the FTSE 100 index’s top gainers.

On the downside, Barclays (LON:BARC) led banks lower after Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) reported a 40 percent fall in fixed-income trading, weighing on sentiment about the British bank, a major player in the bond market.

Data services firm Experian, down 2 percent, was the biggest faller among the FTSE’s blue-chips after its first-quarter update.

“Revenue growth in line with expectations, but no indication yet of recovery in Consumer Services revenue in the U.S., and as expected under pressure in the UK,” Stifel analysts said in a note.

Mid-caps held on to solid gains, up 0.5 percent thanks to strong progress by IG Group and Carillion.

Crisis-hit British construction company Carillion jumped 5.5 percent after its joint venture won two further contracts, worth 158 million pounds, to supply services for British military sites.

The stock is up 50 percent from last week’s lows.

Defence contractor G4S (CO:G4S) rose to the top of the FTSE 100 as investors read across from Carillion’s gains.

FTSE 100 dips as pound loses ground

The UK’s stock market slipped as the pound edged back below the $1.30 level.

The benchmark FTSE 100 share index ended the week down 37.6 points at 7,312.72 at the close of trading.

The pound dipped after figures showed a drop in UK households’ disposable income. The Office for National Statistics data also showed that the savings ratio had fallen to a record low.

The pound ended at $1.2996. Against the euro it was unchanged at 1.13685 euros.

Shares in United Utilities ended the session down 3.45% after Credit Suisse cut its rating on the stock to “underperform” from “outperform”.

Outside the FTSE 100, shares in Game Digital dived nearly 35%% after the video games retailer issued a profit warning.

The company said trading had been affected by lower than expected supplies of the Nintendo Switch console.

Worldpay suffers reversal of fortune

Shares in Worldpay slumped 8.8% after news broke that it was being taken over by US rival Vantiv.

Earlier in the day, the company had been leading the FTSE 100 for the second day running, following a rise of 25% on Tuesday.

Tesco was the biggest riser, up 3.8% after wholesaler Booker reported strong sales figures. Tesco’s deal to buy Booker awaits approval from regulators.

Overall, the FTSE 100 closed up 10.37 points or 0.14% at 7,367.60.

Housebuilder Persimmon rose 2.4% on the strength of solid first-half results.

The company said sales rose by 7% year-on-year in the period, unaffected by general election jitters.

Persimmon’s performance lifted the sector, with rivals Barratt and Taylor Wimpey also trading higher.

On the currency markets, the pound was up 0.11% against the dollar at $1.2933 and also up 0.11% against the euro at 1.1399 euros.

FTSE 100 lower despite Worldpay share surge

Shares in payment processor Worldpay jumped by 27.7% after it said it had received takeover approaches.

Following reports that it could be a bid target, Worldpay confirmed it had been approached by both Vantiv and JPMorgan Chase Bank.

Despite the jump in Worldpay shares, the FTSE 100 index closed down 19.86 points at 7,357.23 by late morning.

Shares in Sainsbury’s rose 0.3% after its latest sales figures came in slightly ahead of expectations.

The UK’s second largest supermarket chain – which also owns Argos – said like-for-like sales excluding petrol rose 2.3% in the 16 weeks to 1 July.

Outside the FTSE 100 index, shares in Imagination Technologies rose 9.4% after the company – which is up for sale and in dispute with Apple, its largest customer – said it had returned to profit.

The company reported a £2.4m pre-tax profit for 12 months to 30 April, compared with a £29.4m loss in the previous year. Revenues rose 19% to £145.2m.

On the currency markets, the pound was down 0.17% against the dollar at $1.2918 and was flat against the euro at 1.1386 euros.