Bookmakers defy wider market dip


The FTSE 100 Index dropped one point to 6055.8 as the market opened

Shares in the UK’s biggest bookmakers have raced ahead after William Hill said the weather conditions that decimated sporting fixtures in the run-up to Christmas may not have been as damaging to its business as many feared.

William Hill forecast annual profits at the top end of expectations and said retail turnover grew by 4% in December despite the weather disruption.

In a lacklustre session for the wider market, with the FTSE 100 Index down one point at 6055.8, the second-tier pair of William Hill and Ladbrokes made strong progress – up 10.5p to 187.2p and 5.4p to 137.5p respectively.

Trading conditions were less favourable in the consumer goods sector before Christmas as Comet owner Kesa Electricals warned it expected to make a full-year loss in the UK. With the company bracing the City for results at the bottom end of expectations, shares slumped 6%, or 9.6p, to 141.2p.

Kesa was joined on the FTSE 250 fallers board by a clutch of housebuilders amid continued uncertainty over the property sector. Redrow fell 2p to 129.9p, Taylor Wimpey dropped 1.1p to 37p and Persimmon eased 10.2p to 448.9p.

There was further punishment for HMV shares after the music store confirmed its suppliers were being hit by a reduction in credit insurance amid fears over the chain’s trading position. HMV fell 11%, or 3p, to 23.25p.

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