London close: Ex-dividend stocks keep FTSE below the line

Thu 07 Apr 2022

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London stocks closed in negative territory on Thursday, as investors mulled tighter-than-expected jobs data from across the pond, and more strong growth for house prices in the UK.
The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.47% at 7,551.81, and the FTSE 250 was off 0.3% at 21,037.80.

Sterling was also in the red, last falling 0.07% on the dollar to $1.3060, and trading 0.1% weaker against the euro at €1.1983.

"A slew of UK names have gone ex-dividend today, with the result that the FTSE 100 has not joined in the modest gains seen on the continent," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

"Combined with a decline for Shell over its $5bn hit due to the withdrawal from Russia, the day has been a gloomy one for the FTSE."

Beauchamp said the top-flight index was still doing much better than its European rivals since its March low.

"While the FTSE 100 has nearly returned to its February highs, thanks to the strong performance of oil, mining and banks, the DAX and others continue to struggle, remaining well below the highs from earlier in the year, as their close economic links to Russia make investors nervous."

Weekly jobless claims data released earlier in the afternoon showed the US labour market was far tighter than previously thought, with the Department of Labor reporting that initial unemployment claims declined by 5,000 over the week to 2 April, to reach just 166,000.

That was far less than the 205,000 print anticipated by economists at Barclays.

The Labor Department also marked down its preliminary estimate for the level of claims during the week to 26 March, by 31,000 to 171,000, while the four-week moving average, which aims to smooth out week-to-week fluctuations, fell by 8,000 to 170,000.

Secondary unemployment claims - those not being filed for the first time - edged up by 17,000 to 1.523 million for the week ended 26 March.

On home shores, UK house prices continued their northward stride in March, with fresh industry data pointing to the largest increase in six months.

The Halifax House Price Index showed monthly growth of 1.4%, with the average UK house price now sitting at 282,753 - another record high.

On a quarterly basis, house price growth stood at 2.3%, while the annual rise came in at 11% to March.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, noted that the new record price was up 28,113 on a year ago - not far off average UK earnings over the same period of 28,860.

"The story behind such strong house price inflation remains unchanged - limited supply and strong demand, despite the prospect of increasing pressure on households' finances," he said.

"Although there is some recent evidence of more homes coming onto the market, the fundamental issue remains that too many buyers are chasing too few properties.

"The effect on house prices makes it increasingly difficult for first-time buyers looking to make their first step onto the ladder, but also challenges homemovers who face ever bigger leaps to move up the rungs to a larger property."

In equity markets, Aviva fell 1.65% as it traded without entitlement to the dividend, with Barratt Developments down 2.2% and Smurfit Kappa losing 0.33% as they also went ex-dividend.

Shell was in the red by 2.13% after it said it was expecting to book up to $5bn in post-tax write-offs after its decision to exit Russia, adding that oil and gas earnings would be "significantly higher" on the back of surging prices.

Countryside Partnerships tumbled 14.57% after it said annual profit would fall, following a damning review of its own operations.

The company said it expanded too quickly and botched the acquisition of Westleigh in 2018, with project delays, poor workmanship and rising costs also affecting the group at some sites.

TI Fluid Systems slid 9.93% after a downgrade to 'hold' from 'buy' at Jefferies, which slashed its price target to 195p from 350p.

On the upside, 888 Holdings surged 16.77% after it and Caesars Entertainment agreed a cut in the deal value of William Hill's international assets due to tougher economic and regulatory conditions.

888 also unveiled plans to raise funds via a placing to help pay for its acquisition of the non-US operations.

BT Group was in the black by 1.24% after it emerged the telecoms company was facing possible strike action, as its new UK pay offer was rejected by the Communication Workers Union.

The firm announced earlier that it would be giving frontline workers a 1,500 pay rise - its biggest in more than two decades.

It said the pay increase would be given to 58,000 workers including engineers, contact centre staff and retail staff, describing it as being "focussed on the lowest-paid workers".

AstraZeneca was 1.97% higher after JPMorgan Cazenove upped its price target to 12,000 from 10,000p, and reiterated its 'overweight' rating.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,551.81 -0.47%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,037.80 -0.30%
techMARK (TASX) 4,380.38 0.48%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Airtel Africa (AAF) 142.30p 2.52%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,229.50p 2.12%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 246.00p 1.99%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 10,668.00p 1.97%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,629.00p 1.62%
Ferguson (FERG) 9,826.00p 1.53%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 4,615.00p 1.41%
BT Group (BT.A) 188.45p 1.24%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 12,980.00p 1.09%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,640.50p 1.08%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Aviva (AV.) 422.60p -4.91%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 507.80p -4.26%
Entain (ENT) 1,555.00p -4.10%
Abrdn (ABDN) 203.00p -3.79%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,171.00p -2.95%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 129.65p -2.81%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,650.00p -2.45%
Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,054.00p -2.43%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,426.00p -2.36%
Prudential (PRU) 1,085.00p -2.25%

FTSE 250 - Risers

888 Holdings (888) 224.20p 16.77%
Chrysalis Investments Limited NPV (CHRY) 183.00p 4.57%
Workspace Group (WKP) 705.50p 3.22%
AJ Bell (AJB) 313.20p 3.16%
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 644.00p 2.88%
Caledonia Investments (CLDN) 3,635.00p 2.84%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 1,034.00p 2.78%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 365.00p 2.76%
Elementis (ELM) 121.90p 2.60%
Trustpilot Group (TRST) 147.90p 2.28%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Countryside Partnerships (CSP) 235.00p -14.57%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 162.80p -9.93%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 261.40p -6.11%
Savills (SVS) 1,060.00p -5.61%
Vistry Group (VTY) 912.50p -5.29%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 264.00p -5.21%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 169.00p -3.98%
Energean (ENOG) 1,226.00p -3.92%
Quilter (QLT) 143.20p -3.89%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 324.00p -3.34%
Archived Stories

15 Aug London close: Stocks squeeze out a positive finish after Chinese data
12 Aug London close: Stocks higher ahead of key data next week
11 Aug London close: Ex-dividends weigh down afternoon trading
10 Aug London close: Stocks strengthen as US inflation comes in below forecasts
09 Aug London close: Stocks mixed amid energy concerns, US CPI fears