Earnings and ex-divs blight Britain’s FTSE; Barclays a bright spot

LONDON (Reuters) – Disappointing results, big stocks going ex-dividend and concerns over rising bond yields hit Britain’s top share index on Thursday, pulling it to a one-week low.

Britain’s blue chip FTSE 100 .FTSE index had declined 1 percent to 7,210.67 points by 1001 GMT, while mid caps .FTMC fell 0.7 percent.

A number of heavyweight stocks dropped after reporting results. Shares in British American Tobacco (BATS.L) were the biggest fallers, down 4.5 percent after the cigarette maker reported weaker-than-expected sales growth for 2017.

Likewise miner Anglo American (AAL.L) fell 4 percent following its full year update. Though the miner reported a 45 percent increase in annual earnings and halved its net debt, analysts pointed to the fact that Anglo’s shares had gained 16 percent in 2018 ahead of the announcement, on top of last year’s 33.6 percent rally.

Elsewhere mid cap Moneysupermarket.com (MONY.L) plummeted more than 16 percent after its guidance disappointed investors, with the firm pointing to costs around a new strategy.

Stocks trading ex-dividend also weighed, with Imperial Brands (IMB.L), Diageo (DGE.L) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) all falling.

More broadly, concerns over rising bond yields and inflation continued to plague equity markets, after the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed more confidence in the need to keep raising interest rates.

This in turn sent the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield to a four-year high and the dollar also gained, which in turn hit greenback-denominated metals prices.

“Thanks to global growth, the expected impact of the U.S. tax bill and supportive financials markets, the Fed … upped its growth expectations for the U.S.,” Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said in a note.

“This would mean that a faster pace of rate rises could be on the cards.”

Consumer staples, which are considered by some to be proxies for bonds given their generous dividend income streams, took the most points off the FTSE, given that rising bond yields dents their appeal for some investors.

Materials stocks also dropped, tracking commodities prices lower.

There were some bright spots on the FTSE though among the dozen or so stocks in positive territory. Banking stock Barclays (BARC.L) jumped more than 5 percent, the biggest gainer, after reporting its annual results.

Analysts cheered Barclays restoring its full dividend, which demonstrates that the bank is confident in future earnings.

“Full-year dividend back to 6.5p next year and talk of buybacks should have investors purring with delight even though a series of one-off charges meant Barclays slid to a loss in 2017,” Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said in a note.

Likewise utility Centrica (CNA.L) bounced 4 percent after its full year results, in which it raised its cost savings and announced that it would cut 4,000 jobs by 2020.

For a graphic on British Banking Stocks, click: reut.rs/2sSoF1p

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Toby Chopra

Source link