London close: Ex-dividends weigh down afternoon trading
London stocks closed below the waterline on Thursday, with ex-dividend stocks remaining a drag through afternoon trading.
The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.55% at 7,465.91, and the FTSE 250 was off 0.26% at 20,245.43.
Sterling was mixed against its major pairs, last trading up 0.03% on the dollar at $1.2223, while it weakened 0.29% against the euro to €1.1828.
“A swathe of ex-dividends on the FTSE 100 has meant that the index has been left behind as Wall Street moves higher once again,” said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.
“In addition, a continued wave of selling in the US dollar has meant that the risk-on moves have extended into currency markets, boosting sterling and the euro and hobbling European markets.
“But this temporary weakness in London might prove beneficial for some dip buyers, and with the macro outlook brightening for the time being the FTSE 100’s global stocks should continue to provide attractions for investors.”
In economic news, UK house prices continued to rise in July and were expected to continue to do so over the year ahead as a result of a "severe lack of stock".
A fresh survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said the net balance of respondents reporting higher prices last month hit 63%, moderately lower than the high of 78% recorded in June, but little changed from 65% in June.
July's reading also remained comfortably above the long-run average of 13% for the indicator, indicating that a "firmly upward trend" remained in place, RICS said.
"Although house price growth is likely to continue to ease, respondents still anticipate prices will be modestly higher than current levels in a year’s time," RICS senior economist Tarrant Parsons said.
“Amid a backdrop of sharply rising living costs, slowing economic growth and higher interest rates, it is little surprise that housing market activity is now losing some momentum.
"With monetary policy set to be tightened further over the coming months, sales expectations point to a further softening in transaction volumes going forward."
Across the pond, Americans lined up for unemployment benefits at a slightly accelerated pace in the week ended 6 August, according to the Labor Department.
Initial jobless claims rose by 14,000 week-on-week to 262,000, slightly better than expectations for a reading of 263,000, while the previous week's level was downwardly revised by 12,000 to 248,000.
The four-week moving average, which aims to smooth out week-to-week volatility, came to 252,000, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week's downwardly revised average of 247,500.
Still stateside, a fall in energy prices saw wholesale inflation in the US register its first outright fall since April 2020 last month.
According to the Department of Labor, so-called final demand prices retreated at a month-on-month pace of 0.5%, more than consensus expectations for 0.3%.
That pushed the annual rate of increase down from 11.3% in June to 9.8% for last month - its slowest rate of gains since October.
Food prices jumped by 1.0% on the month but those for energy fell by 9.0%, while excluding food, energy and trade, final demand prices edged up by 0.2%.
On London’s equity markets, a number of ex-dividend stocks dragged through to the close, with Ashtead Group down 1.56%, AstraZeneca off 2.19%, Jupiter Fund Management slipping 0.25%, and Hiscox losing 2.05%.
Miner Antofagasta fell 2.18% after it reported lower interim profits due to a volatile copper price, a drought in Chile and concentrate pipeline problems at its Los Pelambres operation.
Real estate advisor Savills slumped 8.63% after it backed its full-year expectations as it posted a jump in first-half revenues but a drop in profits.
Drax Group slid 4.76% after UK business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the company’s imports of US-made wood pellets to be burnt for energy wasn’t sustainable.
According to the Financial Times, Kwarteng said it "doesn’t make sense" and told MPs that the government had not fully investigated the sustainability of burning wood pellets, a type of biomass.
Shares in GSK tumbled 10.06% amid concerns about legal proceedings related to the pharmaceutical company’s former blockbuster heartburn drug Zantac.
On the upside, Network International shot 16.18% higher after it reported a surge in interim profit and revenue.
Ladbrokes owner Entain rallied 2.74% after it announced a new drive to expand in central and eastern Europe and the acquisition of a Croatian sportsbook operator, as it posted a rise in first-half net gaming revenue.
Coca-Cola HBC fizzed 3.33% higher after it reported half-year net sales of €4.21bn, beating market expectations of €3.98bn.
OSB Group gained 5.3% after it posted a 16% increase in interim underlying pre-tax profit to a record £294.1m.
Investment manager M&G gained 2.07% after it posted a first-half adjusted operating profit of £182m, comfortably ahead of analyst expectations of £143m.
Reporting by Josh White at Sharecast.com. Additional reporting by Michele Maatouk, Frank Prenesti, Iain Gilbert and Alexander Bueso.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Harbour Energy (HBR) 378.70p 5.78%
Entain (ENT) 1,357.50p 3.74%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,047.00p 3.33%
Aveva Group (AVV) 2,452.00p 3.24%
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 9,382.00p 2.47%
M&G (MNG) 222.20p 2.07%
Shell (SHEL) 2,213.50p 2.03%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 154.05p 2.02%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 926.60p 1.91%
Anglo American (AAL) 3,007.00p 1.69%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
GSK (GSK) 1,400.00p -10.06%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 145.90p -4.89%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,816.00p -3.74%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 10,506.00p -2.88%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 11,655.00p -2.88%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,565.00p -2.86%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 412.60p -2.85%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 717.80p -2.23%
Centrica (CNA) 77.76p -2.21%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,167.00p -2.18%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Network International Holdings (NETW) 232.60p 16.18%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 537.60p 8.12%
OSB Group (OSB) 576.50p 5.30%
Molten Ventures (GROW) 440.00p 5.21%
HarbourVest Global Private Equity Limited A Shs (HVPE) 2,485.00p 5.07%
Darktrace (DARK) 400.00p 5.01%
888 Holdings (DI) (888) 160.00p 4.92%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 83.50p 4.31%
Energean (ENOG) 1,270.00p 4.27%
Capricorn Energy (CNE) 234.60p 4.08%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Savills (SVS) 1,027.00p -8.63%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 120.90p -6.35%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 142.70p -5.50%
Drax Group (DRX) 701.00p -4.76%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 136.25p -4.29%
Man Group (EMG) 246.40p -4.12%
Home Reit (HOME) 118.40p -3.90%
FirstGroup (FGP) 129.50p -3.86%
Jlen Environmental Assets Group Limited NPV (JLEN) 128.40p -3.31%
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 374.00p -3.21%