- FTSE closes down 24.82 points at 6,678.18
- Ukraine developments weigh on sentiment
- UK retail sales come in ahead of forecasts
techMARK 2,747.90 -0.43%
FTSE 100 6,685.69 -0.26%
FTSE 250 15,888.21 -0.65%
UK stocks ended the week in the red, as developments in Ukraine weighed on sentiment and earnings reports out from both the UK and the States failed to provide a bid sufficient enough to boost sentiment.
The FTSE 100 closed down 24.82 points at 6,678.18.
Also providing a drag was Standard and Poor's decision to downgrade Russia's credit rating to BBB-, which hit stocks in big player Germany, which relies heavily on its energy imports from Russia.
"The index has failed to reach the top of its range and reversed course around 9,600 yesterday," Jasper Lawler at CMC Markets noted. "Following a couple of weeks of gains, traders are taking profits wishing to avoid a weekend gap in price in case the situation in Ukraine gets even worse."
In the most recent news out from Ukraine, it was reported that Ukrainian leaders are going ahead with plans for a military operation against the pro-Russian separatists, although the main pro-Russian holdouts will not be targeted so as to avoid civilian casualties. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened additional sanctions against Russian officials. In parallel, several ex-Soviet republics - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine - have called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the border areas near Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported.
UK retail sales come in ahead of forecasts
In today's macro news, it was revealed that UK retail sales volumes edged higher by 0.1% month-over-month in March, according to the Office for National Statistics, well above the 0.4% drop expected by analysts.
The previous month's gain was revised lower, to show a rise of 1.3%, instead of the 1.7% gain originally thought. Even so, the year-on-year rise came in at 4.2%, also ahead expectations, which had been pointing to a rise of 3.8%.
Meanwhile, mortgage approvals fell back for the second month in a row in March, but higher credit card lending fuelled concerns that consumer borrowing is propping up the economic recovery.
Mortgage approvals for house purchases fell to 45,933 in March from 47,196 in February and a 76-month high of 48,940 in January, according to the British Bankers Association (BBA).
Pearson leads risers, while Tullow sits in last place
Bernstein Research helped educational publisher Pearson higher after it said it is set to cash in on a shake-up of education services in the US, in spite of taking a hit from currency volatility.
Bernstein says Pearson, which gets about 60% of its sales from the US, is likely to benefit from Common Core (CC), which aims to establish consistent and higher standards for graduating US high school students. CC has faced budgetary pressures following the 2008 financial crisis and its roll-out has been delayed, but Bernstein said it should spark a recovery in the new educational materials market.
Also on the up was William Hill, which punters have taken to the cleaners on soccer results, driving a 14% fall in the bookmaker's first quarter profit. The group said major wins for football punters led to two substantial loss-making weeks in the first three months of the year, hitting its gross win margins after a good performance last year.
recovered from recent heavy falls - having lost 117p in the past three weeks - helped by Liberum Capital, which reiterated its 'buy' rating on the stock.
Meanwhile, it was disappointing news from Tullow Oil today, with the company revealing the Tapendar-1 exploration well in the C-10 licence, offshore Mauritania, has not encountered hydrocarbons. The well is being plugged and abandoned, after which the Stena DrillMax drill ship will leave Mauritania. Data from the Frégate-1 and Tapendar-1 wells will now be analysed and integrated into the seismic data previously acquired across Tullow's Mauritania acreage before the next well locations and timings are confirmed.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Pearson (PSON) 1,090.00p +3.81%
William Hill (WMH) 340.00p +2.07%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 863.00p +1.71%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,906.00p +1.43%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,788.00p +1.42%
BAE Systems (BA.) 401.90p +1.39%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 207.60p +1.22%
BP (BP.) 493.50p +0.85%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,466.00p +0.83%
National Grid (NG.) 823.50p +0.80%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,170.00p -3.47%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 400.00p -3.22%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 839.50p -2.50%
Mondi (MNDI) 978.50p -2.35%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 360.20p -2.28%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,080.00p -2.28%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,661.00p -2.24%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,533.00p -2.14%
Royal Mail (RMG) 519.50p -1.80%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 602.50p -1.71%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 704.00p +5.15%
Premier Oil (PMO) 326.70p +4.21%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 243.30p +3.97%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 64.55p +3.28%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 183.50p +2.51%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 864.50p +1.71%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 138.70p +1.69%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 253.90p +1.56%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,825.00p +1.39%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 351.80p +1.35%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 758.00p -4.41%
Workspace Group (WKP) 576.00p -4.00%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 190.30p -3.60%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 300.00p -3.57%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 515.00p -3.47%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 331.50p -3.41%
Laird (LRD) 285.20p -3.39%
Man Group (EMG) 97.25p -3.33%
IP Group (IPO) 183.80p -3.26%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,120.00p -3.11%