London market dragged lower by betting stocks fall
The FTSE 100 Index was down 15.35 points to 7,715.44.
The London market drifted lower on Monday after betting stocks tumbled following reports that the Government will slash the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The FTSE 100 Index was down 15.35 points to 7,715.44, with Paddy Power Betfair taking a hit after the Sunday Times reported that Culture Secretary Matt Hancock is mulling a steep cut to the maximum bet from £100 to £2.
Paddy Power Betfair was down more than 2%, or 175p to 8,275p, while its second-tier rivals Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill dropped 14.5p to 168p and 39.1p to 297.2p respectively.
Foxy Bingo owner GVC, which has agreed a takeover by Ladbrokes Coral, also sank 11.5p to 926.5p on the FTSE 250.
Jim Mullen, chief executive of Ladbrokes Coral, said cutting stakes would not tackle problem gambling, but would cause job losses and drain funds for the horse racing industry.
European markets enjoyed a brighter day’s trading, with Cac 40 in France up 0.3% and Germany’s Dax pushing 0.2% higher.
On the currency markets, the pound was edging closer to the 1.40 US dollar mark, rising 0.4% to 1.393 as the greenback weakened.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “Sterling has been climbing lately as the economic indicators from the UK have been broadly positive, and the weakness in the greenback has accelerated the move.
“Sterling has been rising against the US dollar for nine months and there are no signs of the trend changing.”
The UK currency was also 0.7% ahead versus the euro at 1.1395.
The price of oil was teetering close to 70 US dollars, but failed to break the threshold as rising output in Libya held back gains.
Brent crude was up 0.8% to 69.30 US dollars a barrel at the time of the London market close.
In UK stocks, Barclays was the biggest riser on the top tier following reports that US hedge fund Tiger Global had invested a cool 1 billion US dollars (£716 million) in the lender.
Shares in the banking giant were up more than 4%, or 8.7p to 209.2p, with Tiger Global becoming a top 10 investor in Barclays.
Away from the top tier, electricals retailer Dixons Carphone managed to win over investors despite narrowing its profit forecasts and booking weaker Christmas sales across the UK & Ireland.
Shares climbed nearly 7%, or 12.9p to 200.8p, as the company reported a 6% rise in like-for-like group revenues for the 10 weeks to January 6, propped up by double digit like-for-like growth in its Nordic and Greek division.
However, it struggled from a weaker rise in sales in its UK and Ireland division where like-for-like revenues rose just 3%.
Chief executive Seb James – who is leaving to work for Boots – said he was “satisfied” with the regional performance given the “more cautious consumer environment”.
Online grocer Ocado was also making headway after sealing its second major international partnership and its first foray into North America after reaching a deal with Canadian retailer Sobeys.
Ocado said the partnership will involve building an online grocery business in Canada, where Sobeys operates more than 1,500 stores under brands including Safeway, IGA and and Thrifty Foods.
Shares were up more than 27%, or 113p to 526.6p.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Barclays up 8.7p to 209.2p, NMC Health up 80p to 3,360p, Anglo American up 36.2p to 1,792.2p, Shire up 50p to 3,511p.
The biggest fallers were Rentokil down 9.4p to 306.7p, Relx down 43.5p to 1,603p, Paddy Power Betfair down 175p to 8,275p, Rolls-Royce Holding down 17.2p to 875.6p.