Interest rate relief drives FTSE upwards

London shares drove beyond the 4800 barrier today as a slowdown in retail sales offered a further signal that interest rates may have peaked.

London shares drove beyond the 4800 barrier today as a slowdown in retail sales offered a further signal that interest rates may have peaked.

Investors switched from retailers into a range of other stocks after official data showed sales volumes falling by 0.4% last month, against City expectations of a small rise.

Mobile phone stocks and power suppliers were among the main beneficiaries on a morning when the FTSE 100 Index lifted 16.3 points to 4812.2.

Sentiment was helped by a positive set of corporate results, with brewer SABMiller second in the Footsie risers with a gain of nearly 4% or 30p to 877p after saying first-half net profits had more than doubled.

National Grid Transco also featured among the winners, up 7p to 468p, as it posted pre-tax, pre-exceptional interim profits of £394m (€561.1m) against £373m (€531.2m) beforehand.

Mobile phone groups mmO2 and Vodafone made progress after second-tier rival Virgin Mobile posted a 14% rise in half-year profits to £47.3m (€67.3m).

For the second session running, mmO2 led the Footsie risers with a gain of more than 4% as investors continued to respond positively to the prospect of a maiden dividend payment.

The warm glow around mm02, which was up 4.5p at 116p, also spread to heavyweight rival Vodafone. Its shares rose 2.25p to 146p.

But the early gains by Virgin Mobile were quickly eroded as investors looked beyond its half-year results to a warning that revenues growth and margins were likely to weaken over Christmas. Virgin shares stood unchanged at 200p.

Back in the top flight, Hilton Group fell 3% or 7p to 252.25p after it reported that a string of adverse results had affected its chain of Ladbrokes bookmakers.

Elsewhere in the second tier, supermarket group Somerfield was down 1.75p at 144.74p after it said overall first half like-for-like sales were slightly lower than a year ago.

More in this section

Lunchtime
News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up
Revoiced
Newsletter

Our Covid-free newsletter brings together some of the best bits from irishexaminer.com, as chosen by our editor, direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up