London markets finish in red after pound gains ground


ondon’s main markets suffered a weak session on Thursday as a resurgent pound hit multinationals.

Sterling made gains against the dollar ahead of Friday’s monthly GDP data, with currency traders also keeping an eye out for the February US non-farm payrolls report and its implications for rates.

In London, miners were among the fallers while the FTSE 250 was impacted by declines for the likes of Hammerson and Domino’s following updates.

The FTSE 100 moved 0.63%, or 49.94 points, lower to finish at 7,879.98.

The pound was up 0.69% at 1.192 US dollars, and by 0.39% to 1.127 euros at market close in London.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: “While US markets acquire managed to produce headway this afternoon, ex-dividends, a rising pound and broad-based weakness in a number of sectors acquire conspired to hold the FTSE 100 back.

“Rio Tinto’s ex-dividend status has not helped mining stocks, with others like Antofagasta down in sympathy despite a better showing for commodity prices in general.

“marvelous results from Informa and Aviva provided some relief, but overall the index continues to trade in the red, the outlier for the day.”

Trading on Wall Street was positive on the opening bell as the US markets continued to see-saw.

Across the Channel, sentiment improved after the US opening but remained cautious, with some bargain hunting from traders.

The German Dax rose by 0.01%, and the French Cac 40 decreased by 0.12% at close.

In company news, Aviva was among the FTSE’s stronger performers after the group reported a 35% surge in annual earnings despite the pressure on its UK general insurance arm.

The insurer reported operating profits of £2.2 billion for 2022, up from £1.6 billion in 2021, helping to seize its shares 12.3p higher at 462.4p.

Gambling giant Entain was meanwhile in the red after telling shareholders it expects profit margins to be lower this year in the face of regulatory headwinds.

The firm, which runs Ladborkes and Coral, told shareholders that core profit margins are set to dip to 26% in 2023.

It saw shares finish 63p lower at 1,329p.

Shares in technology firm WANdisco were suspended on Thursday after it said it had discovered potential fraud by a potential employee.

The firm said it asked for the stock to be suspended as a result, only days after revealing it was eying a fresh listing in recent York.

Harbour Energy recovered to close modestly higher despite the North Sea oil and gas producer saying a closely eight-fold increase in its profit was “all but wiped out” after the Government’s windfall tax on energy companies kicked in.

The firm’s shares were up 1.1p at 288p as its pre-tax profit of 2.5 billion dollars (£2.1 billion) was reduced to eight million dollars (£6.7 million) after tax.

Meanwhile, the price of Brent crude oil increased by 0.29% to 82.55 US dollars (£71) per barrel when the London markets closed

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Aviva, up 12.3p at 462.4p, Informa, up 17.6p at 697p, BAE Systems, up 20p at 935.2p, Frasers group, up 12.5p at 784.5p, and Rentokil, up 6.8p at 532p.

The biggest fallers of the session were Spirax-Sarco, down 600p at 11,270p, DS Smith, down 16.3p at 326.8p, Rio Tinto, down 270p at 5,690p, Entain, down 63p at 1,329p, and Ocado, down 21.8p at 482.6p.