FTSE up slightly

Broadcaster BSkyB was centre of attention on the London market today after a better-than-feared verdict from regulator Ofcom over the amount it can charge rivals for premium sports.

Broadcaster BSkyB was centre of attention on the London market today after a better-than-feared verdict from regulator Ofcom over the amount it can charge rivals for premium sports.

Investors breathed a sigh of relief as Ofcom's ruling did not include movies content, even though it said BSkyB must cut wholesale prices for Premier League coverage.

BSkyB secured its place at head of the risers board, with the wider FTSE 100 Index also closing in positive territory, up 7.3 points at 5679.6.

The Footsie had earlier drifted lower as weak jobs data from US payrolls firm ADP fuelled fears over closely-watched non-farm payrolls figures due on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wall Street fell around 20 points soon after opening.

In currency news, an ongoing rally for the embattled pound saw it reach 1.52 against the dollar and hold firm at €1.12.

But much of the focus was on BSkyB in the Footsie after the long-awaited Ofcom decision, which left shares 3% higher, up 20p at 602p.

Declines in the top flight were led by property firm Segro, which lost 9.3p to 319.6p after turning ex-dividend.

The FTSE 250 Index was also in the spotlight following a clutch of trading updates covering the financial year to the end of March.

There was also interest in shares in asset management house Gartmore after yesterday's shock news of the suspension of one of its star fund managers.

Shares plummeted 31% yesterday and opened down more than 10% today before making a tentative recovery, up 8% or 9p to 125p.

A number of other second tier stocks were under pressure, including transport firm FirstGroup after it revealed that snow disruption in the UK and United States had delivered a £16 million blow to operating profits.

While progress elsewhere in the business meant it still expected to achieve a result in line with hopes, shares in the company dropped 4% or 15.6p to 359p.

Enterprise Inns was also a heavy faller in the FTSE 250 Index, off 8% or 9.9p to 120p, as a brief trading update fuelled fears that it was still awaiting an improvement in fortunes.

The statement contained no trading figures, but included a line that it is spending more than last year supporting struggling landlords.

Northern Foods was also under pressure, even though the Fox's biscuits and Goodfella's pizza firm said it expected profits to meet City forecasts.

Shares opened higher but were later down 1.8p to 58.2p as investors reflected on the company's admission that profits at its ready meals business were under pressure due to investment costs and tough trading conditions.

Scalextric and Airfix firm Hornby offered some good news after it reported an encouraging trend in orders from retail customers. Shares rallied 12.3p to 126.3p following the update.

The biggest Footsie risers were BSkyB up 20p at 602p, Lloyds Banking Group ahead 1.4p to 62.8p, Randgold Resources up 101p to 5015p and Cable & Wireless Worldwide up 1.7p at 92p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Segro down 9.3p at 319.6p, Petrofac off 21p at 1202p, London Stock Exchange down 12p at 710.5p and Kingfisher off 3.1p at 214.4p.

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