FTSE stays above 4400 mark

The London market held its own above the key 4400 support level today despite a weak start on Wall Street.

The London market held its own above the key 4400 support level today despite a weak start on Wall Street.

After retreating from its earlier 54-point gain, the FTSE 100 Index clung on to end the day 36.1 points ahead at 4405.3.

The further gains that London traders had hoped for during the afternoon failed to materialise after Wall Street opened in a mixed mood.

Although the price of a barrel of US light crude remained stable at 47.86 US dollars, US dealers remained cautious amid concerns that it could still push past 50 dollars.

However, Paul Webb, a trader at City spreadbetting firm deal4free.com said fading supply concerns could lift the market.

He said: “In the absence of any geo-political crisis, equities could be in for a good week.”

Among blue-chip stocks in London, news and information group Reuters topped the list of Footsie fallers after investors became ineligible for dividends, with the shares losing more than 1% or 4p to 314.75p.

Enterprise Inns was also among the biggest losers, with shares dipping 1.5p to 533.5p.

British Airways was flying high to be second on the risers board after a pay deal with unions averted a potentially damaging strike over the August bank holiday weekend. Shares rose 6.75p to 219p.

Services group Rentokil Initial was ahead 1.5p at 155.25p on media reports that it was a potential takeover target of private equity firms. The group is also tipped to unveil a share buyback programme alongside its interim results on Thursday.

An upgrade from Morgan Stanley sparked a 7.5p rise in shares of bookmaker William Hill to 548p.

The broker anticipates positive results from the bookie next month, scotching fears of a slowdown in profits growth that have put the share price under pressure recently.

Ladbrokes owner Hilton Group also advanced by 4p to 261.75p ahead of its half-year results on Thursday, with a strong improvement in profits expected from its hotels and gaming divisions.

However, Marks & Spencer failed to benefit from the improved market sentiment. Reports that it had given up its crown as the UK’s largest clothing retailer to Asda kept its shares unchanged at 345.75p.

Elsewhere, microelectronics group Arm Holdings fell more than 18% or 18.75p to 81.75p as investors gave a cool response to a 913 million US dollars (£502.6 million) acquisition of US-based chipmaker Artisan Components.

Investors in FTSE Smallcap magazine publisher The Future Network also responded negatively to the group’s acquisition of two magazines from rival Dennis Publishing.

Future, which said it was planning to suspend one of the newly acquired publications in its current form due to a 40% fall in circulation, saw its shares fall 0.25p to 57.75p.

The day’s biggest risers were Schroders NV, up 424.5p to 555.5p, British Airways ahead 6.75p to 219p, Tomkins lifting 7.5p to 259p and 3i Group adding 15p to 561p.

The biggest fallers were Reuters off 4p to 314.75p, Antofagasta down 5p to 996.5p, Shire Pharmaceuticals retreating 2p to 459p and Enterprise Inns weakening 1.5p to 533.5p.

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