London close: Stocks dip even as political waters calm down
London stocks ended the day in the red but off their session lows even as the pound bounced back against both the euro and the dollar following last week's thrashing on the back of political uncertainty.
The FTSE 100 closed down 0.20% to 7,507.89, while the pound was up 0.35% against the euro to 1.1179 and 0.53% higher versus the dollar 1.3136.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said a lack of real news "seemed to be sterling’s best friend", allowing the currency to settle last week’s nerves.
"The ongoing situation surrounding Theresa May, Boris Johnson and the rest of the Conservative party remains the dominant driver of trading. The latest twist was a leaked message from the Foreign Secretary to the Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group, stating he was ‘sick to the back teeth’ of his ‘so-called friends and allies’ briefing papers against the Prime Minister.
"While this intervention perhaps further undermines May by placing Johnson in the role of disciplinarian, for now it takes a bit more steam out of this (umpteenth) plot to get rid of the PM, in the process further reassuring the pound. Sterling’s now up 0.6% against both the dollar and the euro, an improvement on the 0.4% rebound seen in the early hours of trading."
The top-flight index tends to take a hit when the pound gains as around 70% of its constituents derive most of their earnings from abroad.
In UK corporate news, Lancashire Holdings advanced as it estimated net losses announced hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the two recent earthquake loss events in Mexico would be in a range of $106m to $212m after anticipated recoveries from its outwards reinsurance programme, and the impact of outwards and inwards reinstatement premiums.
Centamin shone after reporting record third-quarter gold production at its Sukari mine in Egypt.
Millennium & Copthorne surged after City Developments, which is part of Singaporean billionaire Kwek Leng Beng’s Hong Leong Group, offered to buy the remaining shares in the company in a deal that values it around £1.8bn.
Going the other way, AstraZeneca ticked up after its osimertinib treatment for patients advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer was given 'breakthrough therapy designation' for a potential upgrade to first-line treatment by the US drug regulator.
Medical technology business Smith & Nephew was in the red after announcing that Olivier Bohuon will retire by the end of 2018 after seven years as chief executive officer.
Wood Group retreated as it started trading as an enlarged company after completing its acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler, making assuring noises about integration and expected cost savings.
BT and TalkTalk were under the cosh after Citigroup downgraded its rating on both stocks, while Centrica took a hit after Goldman Sachs cut its earnings per share estimates for the utility.
However, Telecom Plus was lifted by an upgrade to 'outperform' at RBC Capital Markets.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,938.00p 1.49%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,875.00p 1.19%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,305.00p 1.01%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,500.00p 0.94%
BAE Systems (BA.) 618.50p 0.90%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 4,815.50p 0.79%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,295.00p 0.78%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,566.00p 0.63%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 366.40p 0.58%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,115.00p 0.54%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Anglo American (AAL) 1,431.00p -3.38%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,627.00p -2.24%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,236.00p -2.14%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 981.00p -1.65%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,370.00p -1.58%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 238.40p -1.49%
Hammerson (HMSO) 526.50p -1.40%
Glencore (GLEN) 362.15p -1.29%
BT Group (BT.A) 279.50p -1.29%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 7,590.00p -1.24%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 560.00p 23.08%
Provident Financial (PFG) 908.00p 6.82%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 228.90p 4.33%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 191.40p 3.69%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,820.00p 3.68%
Man Group (EMG) 176.50p 3.28%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 228.60p 3.16%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,146.00p 2.41%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 585.00p 2.18%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 514.50p 1.88%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 281.70p -5.18%
Rank Group (RNK) 222.00p -5.09%
IP Group (IPO) 135.00p -3.50%
Marston's (MARS) 104.50p -3.25%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,343.00p -3.17%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 302.40p -3.17%
Alfa Financial Software Holdings (ALFA) 500.00p -2.91%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,631.00p -2.86%
Greene King (GNK) 520.00p -2.80%
Vectura Group (VEC) 100.90p -2.79%