Belfast Telegraph

Slump in consumer confidence takes toll on blue-chip stocks

London's premier index drifted lower after research pointing to a slump in consumer confidence took its toll on blue-chip stocks.

The FTSE 100 Index closed down 12.44 points to 7,434.36, with the latest data from YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) revealing a "pronounced collapse" in confidence following the General Election.

The report showed a sharp drop from 109.1 in the week before the vote to 105.2 after, tracking levels seen in the aftermath of last year's Brexit vote.

Shares in retail giant Next were down more than 1%, or 45p to 3,955p, while Marks & Spencer dropped close to 2%, or 6.7p to 336.6p.

Sterling's 0.5% rise against the US dollar at 1.278 was also having an impact on multi-national companies, with Hikma Pharmaceuticals sinking by 76p to 1,516p.

Some blue-chip firms, which report in US dollars or euros, can struggle on the FTSE 100 Index when the pound rises because their earnings suffer from a less favourable currency translation.

However, the London-listed mining giants still managed a strong session thanks to a robust economic update from China.

Glencore was the biggest riser, up 10.5p to 287.7p, with Rio Tinto climbing 100p to 3,157p and Anglo American pushing 31.5p higher at 1,006p.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: "Glenore, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American are the biggest gainers on the day after China revealed that profits at industrial companies jumped by 16.7% in May.

"London's large exposure to mining companies ensured that it outperformed eurozone equity markets today."

Across Europe, Germany's Dax was 0.8% lower and the Cac 40 in France sunk by 0.7%.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead by 14.1 points at 21,423.46 and the technology-focused NASDAQ Composite was down 23.2 points to 6,223.89.

Google's parent company Alphabet sunk in excess of 1% after the internet search giant was slapped with a record 2.42 billion euro (£2.1 billion) fine by Europe's competition watchdog in relation to breaching anti-trust rules through its online shopping service.

On the currency markets, the pound was 0.6% lower versus the euro after the single currency rallied when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi hinted that the central bank could roll back its quantitative easing programme.

The price of oil was up 2.2% to 46.85 US dollars a barrel as it enjoyed an uplift from the weak US dollar.

In the UK, banking stocks were ahead despite The Bank of England ordering lenders to put aside another £11.4 billion over the next 18 months amid a lending crackdown.

Shares in Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland rose by 2.9p to 202.8p and 2p to 251.8p respectively.

Away from the top tier, department store chain Debenhams fell after warning that "volatile" conditions on the high street could impact full-year profits.

Shares closed down by 1p to 43.5p after It said like-for-like sales fell 0.9% in the period, or 2.4% on a constant currency basis.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Glencore up 10.5p to 287.7p, Rio Tinto up 100p to 3,157p, Anglo American up 31.5p to 1,006p, Antofagasta 23.5p to 774.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were GKN down 14.9p to 331.2p, Admiral down 46p to 1,994p, Centrica down 4.7p to 204.3p, Ashtead down 35p to 1,575p.

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