Monday, 1 May 2017

FTSE set for biggest one-month fall since November 2016

Britain's top share index dipped on Friday as disappointing results weighed on banking heavyweight Barclays, with UK blue chips on track for their biggest one-month loss since November 2016.

The blue chip FTSE 100 .FTSE index was down 0.2 percent at 7,220.13 points by 0920 GMT, in line with a broader fall across European equity markets.

Shares in Barclays dropped more than 4 percent, putting the bank on track for its biggest one-day loss since the aftermath of Britain's referendum vote to leave the European Union last June.

While Barclays' first quarter profit more than doubled, a weak performance at its investment banking arm disappointed as the bank missed out on a bond trading boom which boosted bond trading revenues at its U.S. peers.

The U.S. accounts for 34 percent of Barclays' revenue, its second-biggest region after the UK.

"Taking a bit of a longer-term view, Barclays is still in a state of recovery and is moving towards its goal of being a UK retail bank and a transatlantic corporate bank, but this particularly quarter I think the results were a little bit disappointing compared to what analysts were expecting," Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

Barclays results contrast with well-received updates from peers Lloyds  and RBS , which gained 2 percent after reporting its results for the first quarter.

Shares in Mediclinic dropped more than 5 percent, pulling back after a 17.5 percent jump in the previous session after Abu Dhabi cancelled a 20 percent co-payment requirement for treatment at private facilities.

Miners were among the top gainers, however, with Antofagasta  Billiton , Rio Tinto , Glencore and Anglo American all up between 1.9 percent to 2.3 percent as the price of copper edged higher.

Shares in Micro Focus jumped 1.5 percent, supported by a positive note from Deutsche Bank which began its coverage of the British mainframe computers operator with a "buy" rating.

"Micro Focus' strategy is to acquire mature software assets at attractive valuations with significant scope for operational and cost improvement," analysts at Deutsche Bank said in a note.

"We believe the current share price applies a conservative discount to the proposed synergies from the HP Software deal," Deutsche Bank analysts added.

The FTSE 100 index was set to post a monthly decline of 1.4 percent, its biggest since last November, struggling in April after British Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election which has kept sterling at 6-month highs.

Coupled with uncertainty around Brexit negotiations, a stronger currency has weighed on the index's dollar-earning firms, which enjoyed an accounting boost after sterling's 8 percent plunge in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.

The UK's GDP reading for the first quarter also came in weaker than expected as a rise in inflation hit consumer-facing businesses, with the economy slowing sharply.

"For the same reason that the weakening pound meant a rising stockmarket after Brexit, a rising pound has meant a bit of a fall back in the stockmarket since the election was announced," Hargreaves Lansdown's Khalaf said.

Reference: Kit Rees

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