Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 closes up despite falls from energy suppliers after Tory bills pledge

London's top-flight index pushed higher despite hefty falls from electricity and gas suppliers in response to a Conservative party pledge to cap energy bills if Theresa May is re-elected to power.

The FTSE 100 Index closed up 41.35 points to 7,342.21 thanks to a revival from the mining giants, which rebounded from a slump in the previous session to drag the market higher.

Glencore was among the biggest risers, jumping more than 2% or 6.5p to 290.9p, while BHP Billiton rose by 25p to 1,150p and Anglo American climbed 11p to 1,020.5p.

But in a contrast of fortunes, British Gas-owner Centrica and SSE came under pressure after investors baulked at utility stocks following Mrs May's promise to save families up to £100 a year by restricting energy bills if she wins the General Election on June 8.

SSE was one of the biggest fallers, dropping 18p to 1,431p, while Centrica slipped 2.4p to 200p amid concerns that the proposed controls would apply the brakes to profits growth.

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said a price cap would squeeze the utility companies' financial performance.

He said: "The move to cap prices would be a massive hit to the industry. It might cost Centrica something like £200 million and make it much tougher for the firm to reintroduce its progressive dividend policy.

"With a cap, it would be very hard for the Big Six to generate the kind of profits they have been able to.

"It does seem that a wave of 10% price hikes this spring was bad timing for companies who maybe thought they had a few more years until a General Election and who didn't bank on the Conservatives going down this route."

In Europe, the Cac 40 in France rose 0.3% and Germany's Dax was 0.4% higher, while across the Atlantic, the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 opened at fresh all-time highs.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.5% against the euro at 1.189, as investor excitement waned following Emmanuel Macron's victory in the French presidential election.

Sterling was flat against the US dollar at 1.294.

Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, said the pound was facing a sell-off once the Bank of England releases its quarterly inflation report on Thursday.

The price of oil sunk as concerns over rising US crude output took the shine off hopes of an extension to Opec-led production cuts.

Brent crude was down 1.1% to 48.79 US dollars a barrel.

In UK stocks, software firm Micro Focus International was the biggest faller after a lacklustre performance from the software business it is buying from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), with sales slipping 10% in the quarter to April.

It also said full-year revenues would come in flat or fall by 2% on a pro-forma constant currency basis.

Micro Focus announced in September last year that it would buy the software arm in an 8.8 billion US dollars (£6.6 billion) deal.

Shares in the technology company were off 5%, or 149p, to 2,490p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Rolls-Royce Holdings up 39.5p to 890p, AstraZeneca up 105p to 4,710.5p, Glencore up 6.5p to 290.9p, BHP Billiton up 25p to 1,150p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Micro Focus International down 149p to 2,490p, GKN down 6.2p to 352.8p, SSE down 18p to 1,431p, Royal Bank of Scotland down 3.3p to 263.3p.

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