London close: FTSE ends Friday with a whimper, but rises overall in Q1
(ShareCast News) - Shares in London ended Friday with a whimper, although both the FTSE 100 and 250 closed out the first quarter of 2017 higher than end the year that was 2016.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.63% or 46.60 points to 7,332.92, up from the 7142.83 closing level of 30 December 2016. The FTSE 250 was 0.21% or 40.10 points lower to 18,971.83, having risen from 18,077.27 it ended at as 2016 closed.
Over in Europe the Euro Stoxx 50 made mild gains, as did Germany's Dax and France's Cac 40. However, in the US, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 slipped as the Nasdaq Composite rose a little.
"No Ides of March this year, despite European stocks ending the week, month and the quarter with a whimper," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
"Nonetheless we've still seen a fairly positive start to the year despite concerns at the outset of political instability in Europe, the health of the banking system, and the first faltering steps of a Trump Presidency," he said.
And then there was Prime Minister Theresa May's activation of Brexit talks this week after last year's referendum, which has seen sterling plunge and provide a boost for equities alongside the so-called and much talked about 'Trump effect'.
Earlier, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said the EU was open to starting talks with UK on a free trade deal before the Brexit negotiations were done, but with a caveat.
The UK would need to be able to show "sufficient progress" on the divorce proceedings. Tusk also appeared to indicate UK would in effect only get one year to negotiate a trade deal.
Turning to stocks, software firm Micro Focus International has launched a $5.5bn leveraged loan in relation to its proposed acquisition of Hewlett Packard Enterprise's software business.
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said it had completed an agreement with TerSera Therapeutics for the commercial rights to its cancer treatment Zoladex in the US and Canada.
Fellow sector incumbent GlaxoSmithKline announced the start of a phase III study with mepolizumab, an interleukin 5 (IL-5) antagonist, in patients with severe hypereosinophilic syndrome.
In the utilities sphere, National Grid completed the sale of a 61% equity interest in National Grid Gas Distribution to a consortium of long-term infrastructure investors.
Shares in South African insurer Old Mutual and banking group Investec dived after the country's president, Jacob Zuma, fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in a cabinet reshuffle last night, which sent the rand and government bonds tumbling.
The losses by Old Mutual, Investec and other stocks sensitive to financial and political events in South Africa -- such as Anglo American and Mondi -- suffered as "as markets reacted to developments with concern," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.
More broadly, the FTSE 100 was led down by mining and oil behemoths, consumer goods, several financials and some house builders. Sectors under pressure included commercial property and utilities.
On the economic front, a string of UK, European and US data was scrutinised by investors, with no major shocks contained within.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,322.92 -0.63%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,971.83 -0.21%
techMARK (TASX) 3,451.41 -0.57%
FTSE 100 - Risers
ITV (ITV) 218.90p 3.55%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,059.00p 3.12%
British Land Company (BLND) 610.50p 3.04%
Intu Properties (INTU) 279.20p 2.68%
Pearson (PSON) 682.50p 2.17%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 279.00p 2.12%
Provident Financial (PFG) 2,997.00p 2.04%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,026.00p 1.89%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 347.40p 1.88%
Hammerson (HMSO) 571.00p 1.78%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Old Mutual (OML) 200.60p -7.51%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 712.00p -6.19%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,219.50p -3.41%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,234.00p -2.87%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,121.00p -2.57%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,209.50p -2.45%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,931.00p -2.33%
BAE Systems (BA.) 642.50p -1.91%
Tesco (TSCO) 185.60p -1.80%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,106.00p -1.78%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Shawbrook Group (SHAW) 339.30p 11.50%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 244.60p 5.80%
Serco Group (SRP) 116.20p 5.16%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 308.20p 4.55%
Card Factory (CARD) 286.30p 3.60%
LondonMetric Property (LMP) 159.80p 3.03%
Carillion (CLLN) 223.00p 2.81%
Derwent London (DLN) 2,812.00p 2.78%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 1,239.00p 2.40%
Great Portland Estates (GPOR) 651.50p 2.36%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Investec (INVP) 544.00p -9.93%
Allied Minds (ALM) 304.70p -5.25%
Evraz (EVR) 216.30p -4.42%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,600.00p -4.41%
AO World (AO.) 135.00p -4.26%
RPC Group (RPC) 781.50p -3.64%
JRP Group (JRP) 131.50p -3.10%
IMI (IMI) 1,193.00p -2.85%
Ladbrokes Coral Group (LCL) 129.70p -2.34%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 919.00p -2.34%