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FTSE losses deepen after listless US open

Tue, 27th Apr 2021

The FTSE 100 saw its losses deepen through the course of the afternoon as trading on Wall Street got off to a lacklustre start. By the close the index was down 0.5% at 6,931.09 while the US S&P 500 was down 3.3 points to 4,184.31 by 4.30pm UK time. BP reversed earlier gains to trade 0.6% lower at 294.7p on announcing that it would start a $500 million share buyback in the second quarter after its first-quarter profit was boosted by higher oil prices and refining margins. BP's underlying replacement cost profit for the three months through March jumped to $2.6 billion, up from $791 million year-on-year. It kept its dividend steady at 5.25c per share. Banking group HSBC added 4% to 439.5p after it reported a jump in first-quarter profit, as lower expected credit losses helped offset a fall in revenue pinned, in part, on lower interest rates. HSBC's pre-tax profit for the three months through March rose 79% to $5.8 billion year-on-year, even as revenue fell 5% to $13.0 billion. The bank will consider whether to pay an interim dividend at its 2021 half-year results in August. Premier Inn hotel chain owner Whitbread fell 3.5% to £32.93, having racked up a £1 billion annual loss after the pandemic devastated the tourism sector. Whitbread said 92% of its UK hotels were now open and that it was banking on a surge in British 'staycations' to improve its fortunes during the upcoming summer. Consumer goods group PZ Cussons fell 0.9% to 266p as its third-quarter revenue inched up 0.1% after rises in all regions, including Europe and the Americas, were offset by unfavourable currency movements. Looking forward, PZ Cussons said it was on track to meet the current range of market expectations for its 2021 financial year. On a constant currency basis, its first-quarter sales rose 4.7%. Engineering and industrial software company Aveva reversed 5.7% to £36.85 on revealing that its full-year revenue was flat, following a partial recovery in the second half. Music equipment retailer Focusrite rallied 9.2% to £12.17 as it posted a large rise in first-half profit after its sales almost doubled, thanks to a surge in demand for home-based audio gear during Covid lockdowns. Focusrite's pre-tax profit for the six months through February jumped to £23.6 million, up from £2.7 million year-on-year. Focusrite declared an interim dividend of 1.5p per share, up 15% year-on-year. Services provider Serco gained 1.6% to 143.6p on the back of news that it had won two contracts from the UK Department for Work and Pensions. The contracts were estimated to have a combined value of around £350 million over an initial four-and-a-half-year contract period, with the possibility of a two-year extension. Africa-focused fuel retailer Vivo Energy dipped 0.6% to 102p as its first-quarter earnings rose 9% after a fall in volumes was offset by better margins. Ink-jet printing technology group Xaar dropped 2.8% to 146.4p after it posted a full-year loss, as sales slipped and it upped spending on research and development. Leak detection technology group Water Intelligence gained 13.1% to 916.1p, having more than doubled its first-quarter profit on the back of a surge in sales. Story provided by

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