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UK markets reverse early losses as pound weakness lifts pressure on exporters

Fri, 20th Sep 2019

UK stocks reversed early trading losses at midday on Friday as the pound lost ground against the dollar and euro, bolstering domestic earners and lifting the pressure on UK exporters. The pound was expected to remain volatile as Britain's Supreme Court continued to deliberate on whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recent proroguing of parliament was unlawful. Sterling lost around 0.13% versus the euro at midday, and eased 0.05% against the dollar. At 11:56, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was showing modest 7.73 point gains, or about 0.1%, at 7.364.15. LARGE CAP MOVERS UK domestic strength was illustrated by firm housebuilder share prices, led by Persimmon's leader board-topping 4% gain to £21.14, with Barratt Developments also in demand, adding 3$ to 650.2p. Aero-engineer Rolls-Royce shed 3% to 786p 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 3% to 2143.6p 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 rose 0.4% to £16.47.5p after it booked 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 edged up 10.5p, or 0.8%, to £12465 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 show midday weakness as investors fret over paper pricing and competition. UK listed DS Smith and Mondi fall 2.7% and 1.8% respectively to 349.1p and £15.94. 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 by nearly 20% to 3.6p 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. Matress retailer Eve Sleep slumped 35% to 3.2p after it announced that early-stage merger talks with rival Simba Sleep had been called off. Conveyancing industry software minnow ULS Technology lost more than 12% to 47p 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. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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