Banking jitters halt FTSE rally

The London market’s winning run came to a halt today as nerves over major banks overshadowed trading.

The London market’s winning run came to a halt today as nerves over major banks overshadowed trading.

Barclays Capital’s £1.3bn write-down from the credit squeeze was better than feared but failed to lift the mood as the session wore on.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 72.5 points lower at 6359.6 – losing more than 1% after three days of gains, while Wall Street made a subdued start on worse than expected jobs data.

Barclays soared as much as 5% higher today as initial fears of £10 billion in write-downs were scotched in the surprise update, but enthusiasm waned later to leave the stock 2.5p lower at 530.5p.

Investors also harboured concerns over Royal Bank of Scotland – seen as another write-down candidate – as shares fell 18.5p to 448.5p, a fall of nearly 4%.

Elsewhere, Halifax Bank of Scotland was off 25.5p at 783p, HSBC fell 6.5p to 859.5p, and Alliance & Leicester dropped 21p to 648p.

Crisis-hit Northern Rock saw its lowest close since October 1 as traders braced themselves for more bad news from Friday’s deadline for rescue bids. The City expects little value in the final outcome and shares touched record depths today before closing 4.5p off at 134.7p.

The biggest Footsie faller was reference-checking group Experian, which fell nearly 10%, or 45.25p, to 429.5p. The group said it was in line for tougher times ahead as growth slows amid more cautious lending from banks in the credit crunch.

Among the risers, meanwhile, the leading performer was sugars and ingredients group Tate & Lyle, up 12p to 434p on stakebuilding by an investment group and director share-buying.

Takeover moves helped Scottish & Newcastle climb higher after news its suitors Carlsberg and Heineken were upping their proposed offer to £7.3 billion. S&N rejected the new approach as “wholly inadequate” but shares in the Foster’s brewer stood 16.5p higher at 757.5p.

Retailers enjoyed mixed fortunes today after official figures showed evidence of tightening high street conditions with the first fall in retail sales volumes for nine months in October.

Concerns over the sector played on Currys owner DSG International, down 4.5p at 115.3p, while fashion retailer Next fell 65p to 1929p, and Marks & Spencer slipped 45p to 1725p. B&Q owner Kingfisher meanwhile made a small 0.7p advance to 183.1p.

But brewer SABMiller was on the back foot, off 43p at 1332p, due largely to its cautious outlook that accompanied the group’s interim results.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes was another heavy faller, diving more than 9% or 35.5p to 344p, after it reported a disappointing performance from its core betting shop business.

The biggest Footsie risers were Tate & Lyle up 12p at 434p, British American Tobacco ahead 43p at 1801p, Scottish & Newcastle up 16.5p at 757p and Cable & Wireless ahead 3.6p at 184.4p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Experian down 45.25p at 429.5p, Whitbread off 71p at 1534p, British Land down 38.5p at 912p and Royal Bank of Scotland off 18.5p at 448.5p.

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