FTSE falls ahead of China rate move

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The FTSE 100 Index fell 1.1 to end Thursday on 5881.1

The FTSE 100 Index has closed slightly down as speculation over a Chinese interest rate rise dented shares in miners.

The market, which fluctuated and lacked direction for most of Thursday, finally closed just 1.1 point lower at 5881.1.

Miners Antofagasta and Fresnillo were the two biggest fallers, down 32p at 1528p and 30p at 1525p respectively.

Their stocks fell as commodity prices wavered on talk that China might hike its interest rates on Friday, dampening demand for metals.

BP was also one of the day’s biggest fallers. It slid 1.4% as investor fears over the cost of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill resurfaced in the wake of legal action announced by the US government.

The energy giant, which faces penalties as high as 21 billion US dollars (£13.4 billion) if found fully liable for damages in the lawsuit, fell 6.5p to 470p, reversing strong gains seen earlier in the week.

With BP already committed to a separate compensation fund of 20 billion US dollars (£17 billion), the City is concerned about the impact of higher costs on the likely restart of dividend payments at the start of next year.

The blue-chip risers board was topped by outsourcing firm Serco after it reassured investors that it remained on track to meet profits forecasts. With the company also confident in its medium to long-term prospects, shares rose 23.5p to 597p.

In a quiet session for corporate news, Sports Direct International jumped 3.1% in the FTSE 250 Index after it posted a sharp rise in half-year profits to just over £100 million and said it had cut debt by 25%.

The performance, which was driven by a 10% rise in revenues from its retail estate, was slightly better than City expectations and triggered a share price improvement of 4.5p to 150.5p.

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