London close: Geopolitical tensions and ex-div stocks weigh on FTSE
London stocks stumbled lower as Thursday's session was dogged by continued geopolitical tensions over the US-North Korea situation, uninspiring UK economic data and a heavyweight bunch of stocks going ex-dividend.
The top flight index was down 1.44% to 7,389.94, alongside a 27.01% spike in the FTSE 100 volatility index to 13.60, with the more domestically focused FTSE 250 down 0.88% to 19,699.42.
European markets followed suit with the DAX down 1.15% to 12,014.30 and the CAC 40 off 0.59% to 5,115.23.
"Risk assets remain out of favour, as the threat of a conflict with North Korea pushes traders towards havens," said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG.
The pound was down 0.09% against the euro at 1.1049 and down almost 0.2% on the dollar at 1.2978.
Earlier in the day, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that overall industrial production rose 0.5% in June on the preceding month, stronger than the 0.1% that the agency had calculated in for its preliminary estimate for the second quarter, after May's production was revised to flat.
Manufacturing production in June was flat, as predicted, after falling 0.1% in May, while UK construction output badly missed forecasts fell 0.1% month on month and rose 0.9% year-on-year.
Data released overnight by RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) was weighing on housebuilding stocks, with the figures suggesting that declines are starting to spread beyond London as political uncertainty and tax changes weigh on the top end of the market. Taylor Wimpey as well as Barratt Developments, Persimmon, Bellway, Bovis and St Modwen were all lower on the day.
Companies going ex-dividend on Thursday included Anglo American, AstraZeneca, Barclays, BT, GSK, Lloyds, Rio Tinto and Royal Dutch Shell.
Among company results, Prudential easily beat analysts' profit forecasts at the half-year stage thanks to strong trading in Asia and said it had met its target for surplus cash generation ahead of schedule. Operating profits were 5% higher to £2.4bn (consensus: £2.02bn) on an IFRS basis and at constant exchange rates but 15% ahead at current exchange rates. PRU shares were down modestly though.
Interim results from FTSE 100 listed drinks bottler Coca Cola Hellenic lifted its shares as they came in comfortably ahead of market expectations.
Travel operator TUI flew slightly higher after reporting on a strong third quarter performance, with sales and profits taking off during the early summer months, although it left its full year targets unchanged.
Cineworld was higher as interims came in slightly above forecasts, with new openings on track and a strong second-half film slate underpinning full-year expectations.
Commercial and residential estate agency Savills was flat inspite of reporting strong first half results as Asia and London office sales offset a decline in the UK housing market.
Also rising was oil and gas services company Amec Foster Wheeler as pre-tax swung to a profit of £77m from a loss of £446m a year earlier, though.
Card Factory investors were celebrating as the retailer reported a 3.1% increase in first half like-for-like sales after opening 30 new stores during the period.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,592.00p 9.23%
Worldpay Group (WPG) 407.50p 4.89%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,475.00p 1.29%
WPP (WPP) 1,581.00p 1.22%
Centrica (CNA) 199.20p 1.12%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,112.00p 0.72%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,176.00p 0.67%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 934.50p 0.65%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 4,712.00p 0.62%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,553.00p 0.58%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
BT Group (BT.A) 298.90p -4.60%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,479.50p -3.32%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 64.83p -3.11%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,036.00p -3.07%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 189.10p -2.98%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,462.00p -2.92%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 589.50p -2.88%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,582.00p -2.53%
Glencore (GLEN) 331.45p -2.46%
Diageo (DGE) 2,473.50p -2.37%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW) 461.50p 5.29%
Greggs (GRG) 1,174.00p 5.10%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 633.00p 4.80%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 1,976.00p 4.27%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 723.50p 2.99%
Evraz (EVR) 270.80p 2.07%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 195.70p 1.93%
Aldermore Group (ALD) 224.00p 1.40%
Polymetal International (POLY) 946.00p 1.28%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 195.00p 0.98%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ibstock (IBST) 232.50p -6.21%
Polypipe Group (PLP) 380.70p -5.78%
Greene King (GNK) 663.00p -5.01%
Northgate (NTG) 422.50p -4.65%
Countryside Properties (CSP) 338.80p -3.86%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,490.00p -3.76%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 27.88p -3.60%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 337.50p -3.46%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,740.00p -3.44%
Halfords Group (HFD) 319.80p -3.38%