Sunday 26 January 2020

London market falls despite surge from Sky

The FTSE 100 Index closed down 26.15 points to 7,030.46

London Stock Exchange (PA)
London Stock Exchange (PA)

By Ben Woods, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

London’s top-flight index drifted lower despite a surge from Sky following 21st Century Fox’s latest attempt to allay fears over its bid for the broadcaster.

The FTSE 100 Index closed down 26.15 points to 7,030.46, with Sky climbing more than 2% – or 27.5p to 1,325p – after Fox vowed to sell Sky News to Walt Disney or ringfence the news organisation under improved concessions.

Fox, which is attempting to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own, faces a number of regulatory hurdles after the UK’s competition watchdog found the £11.7 billion deal was “not in the public interest”.

Across Europe, the Cac 40 in France dropped 0.3% and Germany’s Dax was also lower, slipping 0.8%.

The pound was higher against the euro as investors digested weak manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) readings from the eurozone, which seemed to weigh more heavily than the slow pace of sector growth recorded in the UK.

The Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI showed a reading of 55.1 last month, inching past 55.0 in February, and surpassing economist forecasts for 54.7.

A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Sterling was up 0.4% against the euro at 1.146, but was also up 0.1% versus the US dollar at 1.406, as the greenback took a hit over fears of a burgeoning trade war between the US and China

The price of oil rose 0.7% to around 68 US dollars per barrel despite the trade stand-off between two of the world’s largest economies.

In UK stocks, GKN was among the biggest fallers after Melrose succeeded in its hostile bid on Thursday.

A total of 52.43% investor votes were cast in favour of the deal, just above the 50% plus 1 share threshold.

GKN accepted defeat shortly after and Melrose’s victory, bringing to a close a bitter battle that has raged since January.

However, there have been calls for Business Secretary Greg Clark to intervene in the deal. Shares in GKN dropped 16.8p to 446.2p.

Meanwhile, investors sent Air Partner plummeting after the private jet firm discovered a £3.3 million accounting error dating back seven years.

The group was down more than 22% on the London Stock Exchange after updating investors about the problem, which spans July 31 2011 to January 31 2018.

The issue occurred when some invoiced money was put through as deferred income rather than being dealt with directly.

However, the firm said “at no point” did the mistake impact or disadvantage customers, operators, or suppliers. Shares dropped or 32.5p to 111p.

Sector peer Flybe was also in the red after warning that its annual results will take a hit from the extreme weather in February and March, which resulted in widespread transport disruption throughout Britain.

The regional airline, which is in the midst of a turnaround under boss Christine Ourmieres-Widener, said that it had to cancel 994 flights in the fourth quarter due to the so-called Beast from the East.

The carrier slipped 0.3p to 33.2p at London close.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Micro Focus International up 24.2p at 1011p, Sky up 27.5p at 1,325p, Smurfit Kappa up 46p at 2,928p, and Sage Group up 5.6p at 644.8p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Mediclinic International down 27.6p at 573.4p, GKN down 16.8p at 446.2p, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust down 14.2p at 428p, and Fresnillo down 28p at 1,240p.

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