FTSE 100 edges up but politics weigh on cautious traders

The FTSE 100 struggled for direction on Monday as politics again weighed on stocks across the continent.

London’s top flight closed up just 9.72 points, or 0.14%, at 7,103.84.

Investors had one eye on political developments on both the continent and across the pond.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC, said: “Equity markets in Europe are mixed as dealers are still concerned about the political fight between Italy and the EU.

“The cost of borrowing for the Italian government ticked up and this left traders feeling uneasy”.

While Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “Markets are likely to remain choppy ahead of the US midterm elections on Tuesday.”

ITV shares closed in the red after the group poached the finance boss of fellow FTSE 100 company Micro Focus, reuniting chief executive Carolyn McCall with a former easyJet colleague.

Chris Kennedy, who was previously chief financial officer at easyJet between 2010 and 2015, will join the broadcaster in February 2019. Shares closed down 0.95p at 154.8p.

BHP Billiton shares closed up, despite the mining giant facing a multibillion-pound lawsuit over the Samarco dam catastrophe in Brazil in one of the largest claims in British legal history.

The class action, which is being handled by SPG Law, counts more than 240,000 claimants including several Brazilian municipalities, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mariana and members of the Krenak indigenous community.

Shares closed up 17.2p at 1,628.4p.

On the FTSE 250, Hiscox came under selling pressure after warning that growth could moderate towards the end of the year.

Gross written premiums increased by 14.3% to 3 billion US dollars (£2.31 billion) in period ending September 30, but added that challenging market could slow premium growth.

The company’s stock fell 94p at 1,552p.

The pound, meanwhile, had another rollercoaster ride.

Having started the day on the front foot following yet more hopes of a Brexit breakthrough, it was brought back to heel after a disappointing set of services sector figures.

The closely-watched Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed a reading of 52.2 in October, down from 53.9 in September.

Economists had been expecting a reading of 53.3.

It was the weakest rate of expansion since March, when the Beast from the East sent a chill over the sector, and the second lowest since July 2016.

Sterling took a dive before regaining its poise to end the session down 0.1% against the dollar at 1.302. Versus the euro, the pound was also down 0.1% at 1.14.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX closed down 0.21% and France’s CAC was 0.01% lower.

A barrel of Brent crude was trading at 73.3 US dollars, up 1%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Evraz up 22p at 569.8p, Astrazeneca up 145p at 5,877p, Wood Group up 14p at 689.8p and Micro Focus up 24.5p at 1,256p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were GVC down 57p at 893.5p, Ashtead down 86.5p at 1,877.5p, Just Eat down 27.6p at 635p and Melrose down 7p at 172p.

SOURCE: Pressassociation.com

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