UK markets end week in the red as volatile pound puts pressure on exporters

Fri, 20th Sep 2019

UK stocks ended Friday back in the red as the pound had a volatile day against the dollar and euro, leaving investors with mixed messages about domestic earning stocks versus UK exporters. Britain's Supreme Court continued to deliberate on whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recent proroguing of parliament was unlawful. Sterling lost around 0.3% versus the dollar at the close, although staged a rally against the euro, ending the session up 0.04%. At the close the benchmark FTSE 100 index was off 11.5 points, or about 0.2%, at 7,344.52. LARGE CAP MOVERS UK domestic strength was illustrated by firm housebuilder share prices, led by Persimmon's leader board-topping 4.3% gain to £21.20, with Taylor Wimpey up 3% to 165.55p. DIY chain Kingfisher was also in demand, adding 3.6% at 202p. Aero-engineer Rolls-Royce shed 2% to 792.8p after it revealed deeper disruptions caused by a fault in its Trent 1000 commercial aircraft engines. This will mean that fixing the problems will drag on, leaving more planes grounded for longer, although the company has retained its cash flow guidance. Royal Bank of Scotland added more than 2.6% to 213.5p after the lender announced that it had appointed the current head of its commercial and private banking business, Alison Rose, as its new chief executive. Rose, who was also deputy chief of Natwest, would assume the role on 1 November after Ross McEwan formally stood down. Industrial and medical products supplier Smiths reversed earlier gains to close down 2.5p at £16.38 despite booking a 19% rise in adjusted annual profit. The rise included an improvement during the second half in the company's medical division, which it still expected to spin-off in the first half of 2020. Power utility SSE stubbornly stayed flat at £12.36 as it confirmed that two of its offshore wind farm ventures -- Seagreen and Dogger Bank -- had won subsidy support in a government auction round. Packaging groups showed weakness as investors fret over paper pricing and competition. UK listed DS Smith and Mondi fall 3.8% and 2.6% respectively to 345.1p and £15.82. SMALLER COMPANY MOVERS Portfolio analysis software provider StatPro soared 53% to 227p on the back of news that it had agreed to a £161.1m takeover bid from US-based Confluence Technologies, pitched at 230p per share. Struggling travel company Thomas Cook crashed 23% to 3.45p after it confirmed media speculation that it was pursing an additional £200m of funding to save a planned recapitalisation deal with stakeholders, including China's Fosun and its lenders. Mattress retailer Eve Sleep slumped 33% to 3.3p after it announced that early-stage merger talks with rival Simba Sleep had been called off. Conveyancing industry software minnow ULS Technology almost 16% to 45p after it revealed the loss of a key customer. The failure to renew the contract will have limited impact this year but is it expected to cut around £0.4m to £0.5m off pre-tax profit in 2020. Sweeteners business PureCircle saw its share price slump 23% to 186p after postponing its full year 30 June 2019 results just minutes before the market's close. Auditors discovered anomalies in some inventory valuations prompting a company investigation that could drag on for several weeks. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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