London close: FTSE drifts lower as investors sell risk for safety ahead of election
Equities in London drifted sideways and marginally lower for most of Tuesday as cautious investors sold risk in favour of safe-havens ahead of 'blockbuster' Thursday.
At the close of trading in London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.01% to 7,524.95, and the FTSE 250 was down 1.08% to 19,654.84. The Dax and Cac 40 were down, too. Wall St was little moved and mixed.
This was ahead of 'blockbuster' Thursday, when the market would be glued to the UK election, European Central Bank policy meeting and also the testimony of ex-FBI boss James Comey.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said stock markets in Europe were weak today as traders cashed in their chips from last week’s positive run.
"The lack of any major macro-economic news has prompted dealers to lock-in their profits," he said, also flagging the expected rise in excitement for 'blockbuster' Thursday.
Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG, said the focus remained firmly fixed on Thursday's schedule and what it could mean for the future of politics either side of the Atlantic.
"UK election polls have been widely conflicting of late, reflecting the significant impact different methodology has upon results," said Mahony.
The latest UK election polls revealed the Tory lead over Labour was narrowing.
A poll by Survation for ITV out overnight showed the Tories just one point ahead of Labour versus a six-point lead a week ago.
A YouGov constituency model published on Tuesday calculated the Tories would win a 42% share of the vote and 304 seats in the election, or 22 seats short of a majority.
Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, added that stocks mostly retreated with a tendency for more defensive areas of the market to outperform.
"The fact that equity indices still remain very buoyant right up to polling day in the UK demonstrates a quiet confidence on behalf of investors," said Lawler.
In the corporate arena, retail, house builders, commercial property and financials were heading lower, while gold and general miners advanced with utilities.
Luxury fashion retailer Burberry took a hit as HSBC downgraded its stance on the stock to 'reduce' from 'hold'.
Convatec was under the cosh after Nordic Capital and Avista Capital Holdings sold £805m of shares in the company.
British Airways and Iberia parent International Consolidated Airlines Group reported a rise in traffic in May on the same day its chief executive said the recent meltdown at BA may have been caused by human error.
RBS was also on the back foot as the group representing thousands of investors in a legal claim over its 2008 rights issue said they would settle.
Going the other way, Fresnillo and Randgold Resources were among the top performers as gold prices advanced, while easyJet flew higher as it said passenger numbers rose 9.5% to 7.51m last month and the load factor was unchanged at 91.5%.
Reckitt Benckiser got a boost as Citigroup, which rates the stock at 'buy', said it sees the potential for double-digit earnings per share growth over 2018 to 2020.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,674.00p 3.21%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,700.00p 2.67%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,045.00p 1.85%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 8,108.00p 1.51%
Experian (EXPN) 1,609.00p 1.45%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 787.00p 1.35%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,178.50p 1.16%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,148.50p 1.14%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 5,643.00p 1.13%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,020.00p 1.07%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Convatec Group (CTEC) 330.40p -3.95%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,739.00p -3.92%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 251.70p -3.08%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 508.00p -3.05%
Kingfisher (KGF) 316.90p -2.97%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,039.00p -2.88%
ITV (ITV) 183.50p -2.55%
Next (NXT) 4,288.00p -2.55%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 179.00p -2.45%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,345.00p -2.17%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 314.00p 5.76%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,641.00p 5.60%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 296.70p 3.81%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 592.00p 2.96%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 172.90p 2.92%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 484.80p 2.89%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,015.00p 2.73%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 129.60p 2.61%
IWG (IWG) 357.10p 1.80%
Redefine International (RDI) 39.25p 1.63%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
AO World (AO.) 129.00p -11.03%
Capita (CPI) 553.00p -5.79%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 352.70p -4.98%
Carillion (CLLN) 192.10p -4.57%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,332.00p -3.84%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 226.20p -3.74%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 305.60p -3.66%
Countryside Properties (CSP) 318.60p -3.60%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 333.00p -3.53%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 167.50p -3.51%