London close: Stocks close lower on disappointing corporate news

Thu 16 Jan 2020

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London's benchmark remained in the red at the close on Thursday, following disappointing updates from the likes of Pearson and Whitbread, as investors continued to mull over the 'phase one' trade deal between the US and China.
The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.43% at 7,609.81, while the FTSE 250 eked out gains of 0.04% to 21,721.23.

Sterling, meanwhile, was stronger against its major trading pairs, adding 0.28% against the dollar to $1.3075 and 0.41% on the euro to €1.1742.

"The long-awaited interim trade deal between the US and China was signed yesterday and now it seems that traders don't know what to do with themselves," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

"The trade story dragged on for more than 18 months.

""The economic tussle injected major volatility into the markets, but now the dust has settled, and the mood has dampened down."

Madden said now that the first phase of the agreement had been made official, investors were looking for cues on the second phase, although US president Donald Trump could "keep that up his sleeve" ahead of his presidential campaign later in the year.

On home shores, the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed that greater political clarity following December's general election helped boost sentiment across the UK's property market.

According to the RICS UK Residential Market Survey for December, sales expectations for the next 12 months rose to a net balance of +66%, compared to +35% in November.

The survey also reported +17% more respondents saw a rise rather than a fall in enquiries from new buyers, compared to -5% in November, while the number of agreed sales edged up to +9%, the first positive number since May.

Regarding house prices, the survey's headline net balance came in at -2%, compared to -11% previously, which RICS said signalled a "broadly flat national trend".

Looking further ahead, however, and near-term price expectations were revised higher in all parts of the UK.

"The signals from the latest survey provides further evidence that the housing market is seeing some benefit from the greater clarity provided by the decisive election outcome," said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist.

"Whether the improvement in sentiment can be sustained remains to be seen, given that there is so much work to be done over the course of this year in determining the nature of the eventual Brexit deal.

"However, the sales expectations indicators clearly point to the prospect of more upbeat trend in transactions emerging with potential purchases being more comfortable in following through on initial enquiries."

Oil prices were higher at the end of the European day, with Brent crude up 1.27% at $64.82 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 1.57% to $58.73.

On the corporate front, Pearson finished down 8.89% after the education publisher said full-year adjusted operating profit was set to come in at the bottom end of its guidance of between 590m and 640m and announced the departure of its chief financial officer.

Whitbread was on the back foot, falling 5.17% after it said like-for-like third-quarter sales fell 1.3% as weak accommodation demand offset a good performance in food and beverages.

Recruiter Hays fell 3.42% as it warned of a lower first-half operating profit as its main markets were hit by economic uncertainty.

Hays cited Brexit-related worries in the UK, the Australian bushfires, a slowdown in Germany and French strikes for a fall in fees as companies delay hiring staff.

The US-China trade war and Hong Kong protests have also impacted sentiment.

Compass was 0.78% weaker after its stock went ex-dividend, while GlaxoSmithKline lost 1.48% and Spirent Communications was 8.87% weaker after both were hit by rating downgrades at Barclays.

On the upside, Associated British Foods rallied 4.15% as the Primark owner said group revenue in the 16 weeks to 4 January 2020 rose 4%.

Oilfield services provider Wood Group gained 7.59% and gambling company Rank Group rose 4.87% on the back of well-received trading updates, while Electrocomponents was boosted 2.48% by an upgrade to 'overweight' at JPMorgan.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,609.81 -0.43%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,721.23 0.04%
techMARK (TASX) 4,234.48 -0.79%

FTSE 100 - Risers

NMC Health (NMC) 1,441.50p 7.13%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,661.00p 4.15%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,993.00p 3.05%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,848.00p 1.53%
3i Group (III) 1,108.00p 1.19%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 312.00p 0.97%
SEGRO (SGRO) 886.60p 0.84%
ITV (ITV) 145.85p 0.83%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 857.00p 0.82%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,770.00p 0.80%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Pearson (PSON) 563.40p -8.89%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,587.00p -5.17%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,909.50p -3.27%
DCC (DCC) 6,446.00p -3.07%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,752.00p -3.03%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,926.00p -2.31%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,790.00p -2.19%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 231.90p -2.07%
Kingfisher (KGF) 209.90p -1.92%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,851.00p -1.76%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Tullow Oil (TLW) 55.40p 11.07%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 396.70p 7.59%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 293.00p 5.02%
Rank Group (RNK) 280.00p 4.87%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 487.00p 4.73%
Premier Oil (PMO) 118.65p 4.08%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 152.50p 3.74%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 125.80p 3.50%
Contour Global (GLO) 199.80p 3.33%
Diploma (DPLM) 1,900.00p 2.87%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Spirent Communications (SPT) 226.00p -8.87%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 2,806.00p -8.54%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 68.85p -5.68%
Marshalls (MSLH) 786.50p -5.35%
C&C Group (CCR) 384.50p -4.47%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 145.98p -3.87%
Hays (HAS) 166.70p -3.42%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 240.50p -3.02%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 453.40p -2.83%
Ascential (ASCL) 410.80p -2.47%
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