FTSE rocked by gambling arrest

Gambling stocks were rocked for the second time in two months today.

Gambling stocks were rocked for the second time in two months today.

The slide, which left PartyPoker owner Party Gaming 7% lower, came after Sportingbet said its chairman had been detained in the United States.

No details were given but the news sent a shudder through a sector already reeling from the arrest of the former chief executive of BetonSports.

The rest of the market was on edge – the FTSE 100 Index was down 53.4 points at 5875.9 at lunchtime – even though interest rates were kept on hold.

Analysts blamed uncertainty in the United States, where recent economic data has fuelled worries about inflationary pressures.

The latest wobble for gaming stocks saw PartyGaming fall 8.25p to 109p while 888 Holdings was 24p lower at 147p in the FTSE 250 Index.

Sportingbet suspended its shares on news of the detention while a company it was in talks to buy – World Gaming – fell 26.5p to 65.5p, or 28%.

On a positive note, shares in directories business Yell jumped by 9% after the Competition Commission proposed a relaxation of price controls.

The surprise decision to allow Yell to raise its prices in line with inflation pushed shares to a new high, up 47p to 580p.

Stocks with exposure to possible higher US interest rates were under pressure, including Build Center chain Wolseley with a drop of 37p to 1113p.

BAE Systems was struggling after it said last night that it had agreed to back the £1.9 billion sale of its 20% stake in Airbus, even though the figure was far lower than previous expectations. BAE fell 3.25p to 374.25p.

ITV shares were down as a newspaper report said the former BAA chief executive Mike Clasper had been sounded out for the position of chief executive. The stock slipped 2.5p to 103p.

Among companies reporting results today, transport group Arriva rose 2p to 614p, reflecting a “solid” half-year performance in the face of rising fuel costs.

But no frills airline easyJet was in the doldrums after revealing it suffered a £4 million revenue hit following last month’s terror scare. Its shares fell 18.5p to 448.5p.

And automotive equipment group Tomkins tumbled 15% as it revealed that a North American downturn would cause third quarter profits to miss expectations.

Tomkins fell 42.5p to 240.25p while elsewhere in the engineering sector GKN dipped 10.25p to 290.5p and FKI slipped 4.5p to 92.5p.

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