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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

FTSE fell as debt woes hit markets

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The FTSE Index fell 117.7 points by the close to 5550.9

Stock markets and the euro took a fresh hammering as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis refused to loosen its grip.

Ireland’s £72 billion rescue package at the weekend offered only a brief respite as investors remained worried about the economies of Portugal and Spain and the potential for further bailouts.

The FTSE 100 Index started the day more than 40 points higher but a weak opening on Wall Street added to London’s faltering performance as the top flight slumped 117.7 points by the close to 5550.9 – a drop of 2%.

It was a similar picture in Europe, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by more than 1% as US investors overlooked decent sales figures from the Thanksgiving holiday to focus on the uncertainty in Europe. Analysts fear that markets will struggle for direction until Friday when the main event is expected to be the release of new US unemployment figures.

The euro suffered another bleak session against the dollar, falling by more than 1%, while the greenback was also higher versus the UK pound.

This put pressure on the value of dollar-driven mining stocks as Vedanta Resources fell 65p to 2010p and Eurasian Natural Resources dropped 26p to 883.5p. Other fallers included Cairn Energy, which declined 17.4p to 377.6p, while Tullow Oil shed 31p to 1151p.

London’s banks weathered the latest European storm having sustained heavy losses at the end of last week. Barclays topped the risers board with a gain of 3.15p to 262.95p, while HSBC was up 0.3p at 651.4p and Royal Bank of Scotland held firm at 0.2p lower at 38.5p. Lloyds Banking Group surrendered a positive start to finish 1.3p lower at 60.5p.

In a thin session for corporate news, British Airways fell 10.7p to 261.2p after the Unite union announced plans to ballot cabin crew over fresh strikes in their long-running dispute. The news came just hours after shareholders voted in favour of the airline’s £5 billion merger with Spain’s Iberia.

Meanwhile, shares in home interiors firm Walker Greenbank jumped 9% – up 3.75p to 44p – after the owner of brands including Sanderson and Harlequin reported record sales and profits for the past few weeks.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Barclays up 3.15p to 262.95p, HSBC ahead 0.3p at 651.4p and the biggest fallers were Petrofac down 85p at 1392p, Cairn Energy off 17.4p at 377.6p, Old Mutual down 5.5p at 121.5p and Burberry off 44p at 996p.

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