Utilities out of favour on FTSE

London’s leading shares lost sight of gains notched up in a New Year rally today as miners and utilities fell out of favour.

London’s leading shares lost sight of gains notched up in a New Year rally today as miners and utilities fell out of favour.

Mining stock Kazakhmys led the decline after copper prices retreated from record highs, and it was followed into negative territory by a string of rivals.

Pressure from utilities going ex-dividend also contributed to the FTSE 100 Index weakening 23.4 points to 5691.2, taking it back from a four-and-a-half year high.

It came amid flat trading in the United States, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average was broadly unchanged by the close in London.

In London, Kazakhmys lost 3% of its market value, off 25p to 790p, and was joined on the way down by Anglo American, losing 53p to 1996p and Rio Tinto down 68p to 2651p.

Yorkshire Water owner Kelda, United Utilities and Severn Trent also prevented any progress for the Footsie after going ex-dividend, meaning investors are no longer entitled to the most recent payouts.

United Utilities was the second heaviest blue-chip faller, down 17.5p to 656.5p, while Kelda weakened 17.5p to 754.5p and Severn Trent dropped 22p to 1063p.

Banking giant Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) was almost 1% lower after chief executive James Crosby announced plans to quit the group in the summer. The stock eased 8.5p to 967p, while insurance stocks were ignored by investors as well.

In contrast, asset managers were in focus after Deutsche Bank gave a bullish update on the sector. It sent shares in Amvescap to the top of the leaders’ board – up 14.25p to 468p – and it was followed north by Man Group, whose shares were 41p better off at 2001p.

Another strong run from high street retailer Next meant the stock also featured on the highest risers’ board, building on yesterday’s announcement that annual profits would be better than expected.

Shares in the company rose 10p to 1690p, but the move was not mirrored elsewhere in the sector as Marks & Spencer lifted just 0.25p to 499.75p.

Much of today’s news came from outside the top flight where housebuilder Redrow was shunned after saying it would not replicate last year’s first-half profits.

News that lower selling prices would hit profits as business shifted from expensive apartments to Government-backed affordable housing sent shares in Redrow 20p lower to 515p. The stock was joined on the way down by Bellway, losing 34p to 1122p and Barratt Developments, down 23.5p to 989p.

But wine warehouse chain Majestic was in better form – adding a penny to 273.5p – after revealing like-for-like sales lifted 5.2% during Christmas trading.

The highest Footsie risers today were Amvescap up 14.25p to 468p, Man Group rising 41p to 2001p, Yell Group up 9.75p to 563.5p and BSkyB rising 7.5p to 506p.

The heaviest fallers were Kazakhmys down 25p to 790p, United Utilities losing 17.5p to 656.5p, Anglo American down 53p to 1996p and Rio Tinto off 68p to 2651p.

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