London open: Shares weaker on stronger pound, Trump impeachment concerns
(ShareCast News) - London stocks opened weaker on Thursday, taking their cue from a stronger pound and downbeat sessions in the US and Asia amid growing concerns that US President Trump could be impeached.
The FTSE 100 was down 42.8 points at 7,460 at 0928 BST. The pound was up to $1.30 after strong retail sales. A stronger sterling hits the many exporters who occupy the top index.
CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "President Trump has enjoyed an almost Teflon like existence since being in the White House with markets prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt on a number of occasions despite his tendency to stagger from one controversy to another.
"This latest one involving ex FBI head James Comey has sparked concerns that this could be Trump's Watergate moment, with Democrat Congressman Al Green of the Democratic Party calling for his impeachment, for allegedly attempting to influence an ongoing FBI investigation."
GlaxoSmithKline shares fell slightly after it said its mepolizumab treatment met co-primary efficacy endpoints and all secondary endpoints in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on patients who have a form of vasculitis.
Patients treated with mepolizumab had a significantly greater accrued time in remission over the 52-week treatment period compared to placebo, with 28% of patients on mepolizumab achieving remission for at least 24 weeks versus 3% on placebo, GSK said.
Financial services provider Hargreaves Lansdown led the fallers after it said assets under administration rose 10% to £77bn as it reported a trading update for the four months to April 30 and announced that chairman Mike Evans was stepping down.
Evans said he would leave HL once a successor was found.
HL said net new business for the period came in at £3.3bn, with year to date net new business at £5.6bn, driven by a recovery in investor confidence ahead of the end of the tax year, new product launches, higher annual ISA allowance and the launch of Lifetime ISA.
Energy network operator National Grid posted its final results for the year to 31 March, with its operating profit rising 14% to £4.67bn on an adjusted basis, and its profit before tax improving 13% to £3.56bn.
The company said total adjusted earnings per share were 73p, a rise of 16%, while its total adjusted earnings per share excluding timing were up 6% at 66.1p.
Total group return on equity was 11.7%, dropping from 12.3% in the 2016 financial year.
Investec reported a 18.5% increase in full-year statutory operating profits to £599.1m which drove a 6.3% rise in statutory earnings per share to 48.3p. That was despite the macroeconomic uncertainty impacting its two key markets, according to the company.
Third party assets under management rose 23.9% to £150.7bn on a currency neutral basis. Capital remained in excess of current regulatory requirements, Investec said, adding that it is comfortable with its common equity tier 1 ratio target of 10.0%. The board proposed a final dividend of 13.0p, taking the full-year payout to 23.0p.
Burberry shares were up as the company reported annual profits at the upper end of expectations and promised investors a new £300m share buyback.
On revenue of £2.8bn in the year to 31 March, which had already been announced, the beige-checked fashion house delivered adjusted profits of £462m, which were up 10% at the reported level and down 21% at the underlying level.