Thursday 26 April 2018

FTSE 100 set for steepest weekly drop in 15 months

Shares in Britain's biggest supermarket chain, Tesco have plummeted
Shares in Britain's biggest supermarket chain, Tesco have plummeted

Francesco Canepa

Britain's main equity index was on track for its biggest weekly loss in 15 months on Friday as two new profit warnings added to a gloomy mood for shares, hit by expectations of monetary tightening in Britain and the United States.

Shares in banknote printer De La Rue and Waste management company Shanks Group fell 24 percent and 16 percent, respectively, as both companies warned on future profits, blaming deteriorating trading conditions.

They echoed warnings from supermarket Tesco and sweetener maker Tate & Lyle earlier this week, further straining investor confidence in lofty profit expectations for London-listed companies, which trade at a premium to their continental peers.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent at 6,632.05 points at 0750 GMT, with the broader FTSE 350 down 0.2 percent at 3,599.94 points.

With a decline of 3 percent, the FTSE 100 was also on track to record its steepest weekly loss since June 2013. Investors are bracing for the end of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing programme next month, which some feel may pave the way for future interest rate rises.

U.S. stocks ended with sharp losses on Thursday, with the S&P 500 suffering its biggest one-day decline since July and the dollar rising to a four-year high against a basket of currencies.

Expectations of monetary tightening in Britain, where Governor Mark Carney said on Thursday the Bank of England was getting nearer to raising interest rates, were hitting exporters and companies which rely on low borrowing costs for some of their profits, such as property firms.

"I think the FTSE has more downside than upside to be honest in the next week or so," said Matt Piggin, a trader at ETX Capital, adding it could fall back to 6,600 points.

"You had Carney saying yesterday that interest rates are going to rise sooner rather than later so any reiteration of that stance is going to cause more of a sell-off."

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