- Ukraine-Russia tensions continue to rise
- William Hill, Pearson and WPP impress with updates
- Tullow drops after abandoning well
techMARK 2,746.73 -0.48%
FTSE 100 6,682.14 -0.31%
FTSE 250 15,946.28 -0.28%
UK markets retreated from a seven-week high on Friday morning as rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia dampened risk appetite.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.3% lower at 6,682 in early trade.
The London index managed to finish 0.4% higher on Thursday at 6,703 after a choppy day's trade as investors weighed upbeat corporate earnings and developments in Ukraine. This was the first time it has closed above the 6,700 level since March 7th.
Ongoing turmoil along the eastern border of Ukraine has prompted traders to adopt a cautious attitude this morning after the country's foreign ministry said yesterday that five "terrorists" had been killed near the town of Slavyansk.
Russia then announced that it would conduct military exercises near the border in response, with President Vladimir Putin saying there will be "consequences".
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia of making an "expensive mistake" if it does not take steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and threatened Moscow with more sanctions.
"So, investors are naturally anxious about what consequences follow such a warning if it goes unheeded," said Trader David White from Spreadex this morning.
William Hill, Pearson and WPP rise, Tullow falls
High street bookie William Hill was rising early on despite reporting a 14% drop in first-quarter profits as major wins for football punters led to two substantial loss-making weeks in the first three months of the year. However, the company gave a confident outlook, saying: "The increased customer confidence from such wins should be good for business, especially in this World Cup year."
Education specialist and Financial Times publisher Pearson was also higher after saying it made a "solid start" to the year, in line with expectations. Nevertheless, the company revealed that headline sales had fallen 6% in the first quarter due to the strength of sterling against the US dollar
and key emerging market currencies.
Currency movements also had a big impact on WPP's top line in the first quarter, limiting revenue growth to just 1.5%, but the £2.57bn in sales recorded still managed to beat analysts' forecasts.
Heading the other way was oil explorer Tullow after it said the Tapendar-1 exploration well in the C-10 licence, offshore Mauritania, has not encountered hydrocarbons. The well is being plugged and abandoned.
Meanwhile, banking group RBS was making gains after it withdrew plans to propose to shareholders a variable remuneration rate of up to 200% of fixed pay, or two-for-one ratio, after UKFI informed the board that it would vote against the resolution.
Airlines easyJet and IAG were lower after reports emerged that a Virgin plane flying from Brisbane was hijacked. The aircraft then landed at Bali's international airport and a passenger has been arrested.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Pearson (PSON) 1,074.00p +2.29%
William Hill (WMH) 337.80p +1.41%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,891.00p +0.91%
National Grid (NG.) 823.00p +0.73%
British Land Co (BLND) 686.50p +0.66%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,463.00p +0.62%
BAE Systems (BA.) 398.80p +0.61%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 286.60p +0.56%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,424.00p +0.56%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,288.00p +0.55%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 837.00p -2.79%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,064.50p -2.65%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 833.50p -1.77%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 604.50p -1.39%
Barclays (BARC) 248.95p -1.21%
Kingfisher (KGF) 411.90p -1.15%
Next (NXT) 6,325.00p -1.09%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,199.00p -1.07%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,550.50p -1.02%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 74.72p -1.02%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 693.50p +3.58%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 240.50p +2.78%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 182.80p +2.12%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 132.30p +1.46%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 138.30p +1.39%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 1,018.00p +1.29%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,985.00p +1.12%
Computacenter (CCC) 654.50p +0.77%
CSR (CSR) 658.50p +0.77%
Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) 53.00p +0.76%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 761.00p -2.44%
Genus (GNS) 1,019.00p -2.39%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 163.60p -2.09%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 193.50p -1.98%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 216.50p -1.95%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,882.00p -1.93%
Evraz (EVR) 91.45p -1.88%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,355.00p -1.81%
Bodycote (BOY) 765.00p -1.80%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,770.00p -1.67%