Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 broadly flat and pound falls amid poll showing hung parliament possible

The London market was broadly flat and the pound suffered as the latest General Election poll suggested Britain was heading for a hung parliament.

The FTSE 100 Index closed down by 0.81 to 7,524.95, with a Survation poll for Good Morning Britain showing the Conservatives' lead over Labour had been slashed by 17 points to just one over the course of the last month.

Sterling also recorded losses following the update, dropping 0.1% versus the US dollar at 1.289 and falling 0.2% against the euro at 1.143.

The foreign exchange markets are concerned about the prospect of any outcome other than a Tory majority because some currency traders believe the Conservatives would handle the UK economy better than Labour.

Across Europe, the Cac 40 in France was 0.8% lower and Germany's Dax tumbled by more than 1%.

On the oil markets, the price of Brent crude was down 0.4% at 49.25 US dollars a barrel, with traders becoming increasingly concerned that Opec's efforts to cut supply will be harmed by an ongoing stand-off in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab countries have severed ties with Qatar amid claims that the country has been supporting regional terror groups.

In UK stocks, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) took a hit after shareholders who brought a multimillion-pound High Court action against the bank decided to settle their claim.

The RBS Shareholder Action Group, which brought the £700 million lawsuit and represents 9,000 retail investors and 18 institutions, is understood to have informed the judge that they have accepted an 82p-per-share deal. Shares in RBS were down 8p at 251.7p.

Low-cost carrier easyJet also fell despite announcing an uplift in passenger traffic last month.

Shares were down 5p to 1,339p, with the number of people flying with easyJet jumping 9.5% to 7.5 million in May compared to 2016.

But the result came in shy of rival Ryanair, which saw passenger levels rise 11% to 11.8 million over the period.

In a contrast of fortunes, t elecoms giant Vodafone clocked gains after announcing new rules to prevent its advertising from appearing within outlets focused on creating and sharing hate speech and fake news. Shares closed up 0.3p to 230.6p.

Away from the top tier, AO World was the biggest faller on the FTSE 250 index after the electricals retailer saw annual losses widen.

The group fell deeper into the red with pre-tax losses of £7 million for the year to March 31 against £6.7 million the previous year and said it remained under pressure in the UK so far in the new financial year.

AO World, which is set to be relegated from the FTSE 250 Index later this month after seeing shares plunge, said its UK growth rate would slow "significantly" in the first quarter.

Shares in AO World closed down more than 10%, or 15.5p, to 129.5p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Fresnillo up 52p to 1,674p, Randgold Resources up 200p to 7,700p, Anglo American up 19p to 1,045p, and Reckitt Benckiser up 121p to 8,108p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Convatec Group down 13.6p to 330.4p, Burberry down 67p to 1,743p, Royal Bank of Scotland down 8p to 251.7p, and Merlin Entertainments down 16p to 508p.

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