Lacklustre US figures dampen markets

A good start to the week faded today as markets turned down again after another batch of US economic figures came in below expectations.

Lacklustre US figures dampen markets

A good start to the week faded today as markets turned down again after another batch of US economic figures came in below expectations.

Figures showing a slowdown in manufacturing activity in May followed a disappointing report on the number of private sector jobs created in the month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 100 points, reversing yesterday’s gains, while the FTSE 100 index dropped 53 to 5936 after the UK’s own measure of manufacturing activity came in below hopes.

The top flight was also impacted by a number of companies going ex-dividend, meaning they are trading without the right to the latest shareholder payout.

Those fallers included Vodafone, which dropped 6p to 162.9p, while Marks & Spencer was down 8.1p to 390.8p, a decline of 2%.

On a brighter note, sentiment towards fashion label Burberry remained strong in the wake of its recent full-year results, which showed a 39% increase in underlying pre-tax profits to £298m. Shares were 20p higher at 1339p.

Other risers included security services group G4S after a broker upgrade lifted shares 7.1p to 293.1p.

And miners were lifted by the impact of dollar weakness on commodity prices.

Those on the way up included Rio Tinto, which lifted 38.5p to 4282.75p, while Lonmin added 6p to 1606p and BHP Billiton cheered 3p to 2406p.

Another good riser was Tate & Lyle as analysts continued to applaud last week’s figures from the sweetener group that showed underlying annual profits rose by 34%. The shares are up 33.5p to 654p.

In corporate news, Bathstore owner Wolseley and floor coverings firm Topps Tiles were both under pressure amid tough trading conditions in the UK.

Updates from the pair highlighted the ongoing squeeze on spending levels among consumers, leading to disappointing sales figures in both cases.

Wolseley shares were initially more than 1% lower but recovered to stand 2p cheaper at 2056p, after UK profits fell by 10% to £28 million in the three months to April 30. However, this was offset by stronger-than-expected trading in the United States.

Topps Tiles was 5% lower in the FTSE 250 Index, declining 3.13p to 64.4p, after it said like-for-like sales decreased 2.1% in the last seven weeks, compared with an increase of 1.8% over the six months to April 2.

While Topps said its performance was “not significantly” different from expectations, analysts pencilled in lower full-year forecasts as a result of the guidance, which came as the company posted interim profits of £7.2m.

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