FTSE up despite negative US news

The London market has finished in positive territory despite downbeat US manufacturing figures giving blue-chips a jolt late in the session.

The London market has finished in positive territory despite downbeat US manufacturing figures giving blue-chips a jolt late in the session.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 7.5 points ahead at 6315.5 after briefly dipping into the red as the US's headline manufacturing index saw a higher than expected fall in March.

The late downturn came despite more positive UK manufacturing data which had little impact on a day where the market struggled for direction with little corporate news.

But a surge in property stocks helped the market after a bullish note on the sector from HSBC.

British Land shares soared 2% or 30p to 1558p after HSBC upped its rating on the group, while sector rival Land Securities also benefited from an upgrade in the note, rising 34p to 2174p.

Credit checking firm Experian finished at the top of the risers board, up 19p at 604.5p, after private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts unveiled a $29bn (€21.69bn) offer for peer First Data.

It was joined at the top by British Airways, up 13p at 499p, as investors await developments over private equity group TPG's bid for Spanish carrier Iberia, in which BA has a 10% stake.

Catering firm Compass was among the firms on the front foot as the firm continued to gain from a positive first half update, ahead 8.25p at 348.25p. Vodafone clawed also back some ground from a bleak previous session when shares lost more than 4% on warnings that UK profit margins would be lower than expected in the second half of the year.

Vodafone was ahead 1.1p to 136.6p. And newspaper group Daily Mail & General Trust was among the blue-chip risers, up 10.5p at 822.5p, as shares continued to benefit from a trading update last week when it suggested advertising revenues were on the ascent.

But the major pub chains featured prominently among the Footsie fallers with Scottish & Newcastle off nearly 2% or 12p to 589.5p, as recent takeover speculation subsided, while Enterprise Inns was also down 12.5p at 656p after Credit Suisse kicked off its coverage of the company with an "underperform" rating.

Meanwhile, mortgage provider Northern Rock shares also lost earlier gains despite a positive trading update that painted a healthy picture for the UK housing market. Shares down 9p at 1136p.

Investors also appeared to be banking profits made in mining stocks after their recent strong run, with three mining groups among the top five fallers.

Antofagasta was off 8.75p, or 2%, at 509p, Lonmin shares were down 55p at 3265p and Kazakhmys was down 16p at 1155p.

In the second tier, Carphone Warehouse closed down 2.5p at 274.25p after warning of additional costs of up to £15m (€11.2m) as it continues to struggle with service problems at its broadband business TalkTalk.

The biggest Footsie risers were Experian up 19p at 604.5p, British Airways ahead 13p at 499p, Marks & Spencer up 17.5p at 694p and Cable & Wireless ahead 4.1p at 107.7p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Scottish & Newcastle off 12p at 589.5p, Enterprise Inns down 12.5p at 656p, Antofagasta off 8.75p at 509p and Lonmin down 55p at 3265p.

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