Wednesday 16 January 2019

Sky shares fly high but fail to lift FTSE 100 Index

Trade tensions continued to weigh on European markets.

Sky urged investors to support Comcast’s takeover, but the boost to its shares could not pull the FTSE out of the red (PA)
Sky urged investors to support Comcast’s takeover, but the boost to its shares could not pull the FTSE out of the red (PA)

By Alys Key, Press Association City Reporter

Sky shot to the top of the FTSE 100 on Monday after Comcast won the long-running battle for the broadcaster with a £30 billion bid.

Shares in the company closed higher by 136.5p, or 8.6% to 1,721.5p in the first trading session since Saturday’s dramatic end to one of the City’s most complex and convoluted takeover sagas in recent memory.

Sky issued a statement on Monday morning recommending the takeover bid to shareholders, calling it an “excellent” offer.

But the boost to the company’s shares failed to lift the blue-chip index as European markets dipped into the red thanks to further trade tensions.

The FTSE 100 ended the day 31.82 points, or 0.42%, lower at 7,458.41.

The latest batch of tariffs in a dispute between the US and China kicked in, dampening the mood across the markets. In France, the CAC 40 was 0.33% lower and the German Dax was down 0.64%.

“There is a growing sense that the trade spat will drag on, and this is weighing on sentiment,” commented CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden.

Beijing has now confirmed it will not hold trade talks with the US until President Donald Trump stops threatening more tariffs, lowering hopes of an imminent resolution.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook shares plunged 21.85p, or 28%, to 56p after the company issued a profit warning.

The firm said that the “unprecedented” prolonged period of hot weather across the continent meant more people spent June and July enjoying the sunshine at home and put off booking holidays abroad.

As a result, Thomas Cook now expects to deliver full-year underlying operating profit of about £280 million, down from previous estimates of £323 million.

Thomas Cook’s statement had a negative impact on rival travel business Tui, which is due to report an update on Thursday. Shares dropped 42p, or 2.95%, to 1,382p.

The pound was up despite weaker industrial trends data, regaining some of the ground lost during Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech at Downing Street last week, which many investors saw as a signal that a no-deal Brexit is more likely.

Sterling was trading up 0.43% at 1.313 US dollars and up 0.44% at 1.115 euros.

But Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, warned that the pound’s strength against the greenback may be short-lived.

“The optimism may be premature because the dollar is treading water ahead of the next Federal Reserve rate setting meeting this week,” she said.

“The Fed is widely expected to up interest rates by 25 basis points Wednesday, a decision which will tip the scales back in the greenback’s favour and with other US economic indicators showing good growth there will be little reason for the dollar to lose ground.”

A barrel of Brent crude was trading at 81.16 US dollars, hovering near its highest price in four years – after oil cartel Opec held back from boosting output.

Without the world’s largest crude producers planning to increase oil output, prices are expected to continue their ascent.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Sky, up 136.5p to 1,721.5p, Randgold Resources up 297p to 5,220p, NMC Health up 52p to 3,362p and Informa up 11.4p to 746.8p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Intertek Group, down 155p to 4,796p, Tui down 42p to 1,382p, Antofagasta down 23.8p to 872p, and Severn Trent down 47.5p to 1,831p.

Press Association

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