Belfast Telegraph

FTSE closes in the red amid jitters over Donald Trump's future

The FTSE 100 followed international benchmarks into the red on Wednesday, as calls for US President Donald Trump's impeachment sent jitters across global markets.

London's blue chip index ended the day down 0.25%, or 18.56 points, at 7,503.47, ending a three-day streak of record highs.

The French Cac 40 and German Dax also closed lower, by 1.6% and 1.3% respectively, while American indices including the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were all down more than 1% in early US trading.

Equity markets were hit by growing calls for Mr Trump to be forced out of office, after fresh details emerged about his recent interaction with the recently-fired FBI boss James Comey.

Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: "Investors have been shaken by reports that Trump urged the then-FBI chief Comey to drop his investigation into Michael Flynn, the latest twist in the Russia saga that is gradually engulfing the president.

"There are a couple of reasons as to why this has caused such jittery trading. Firstly, it threatens to delay, or completely derail, Trump's market-lifting infrastructure and tax policies.

"Secondly, and more drastically, it could actually lead to the impeachment of the sentient Wotsit, an eventuality that would completely erase the foundations of the market's recent record highs."

In currency markets, the pound was mixed, up 0.2% against the US dollar at 1.294, but down 0.2% versus the euro at 1.162.

That is despite fresh data showing the UK's unemployment rate has fallen to a 32-year low of 4.6%.

However, a 2.1% rise in wages - excluding bonuses - failed to keep up with the rate of inflation which came in at 2.7% for April.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices jumped 2% to 52.36 US dollars (£40.44) per barrel after data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed US crude stocks dropped by 1.8 million barrels last week.

In UK stocks, BP edged up 1.25p to 470.5p after the oil giant dodged another shareholder revolt over director pay as it gained backing for a slimmed down remuneration package for chief executive Bob Dudley.

Lloyds Banking Group shares rose 1.37p to 71.52p as the lender confirmed it has been fully returned to private hands nearly nine years after the Government bailed it out at the height of the financial crisis.

British Land Company shares were down 22.5p to 651.5p after revealing pre-tax profits plunged 85% to £195 million in the year to the end of March after its property values fell 1.4%.

SSE rose 17p to 1,468p as it reported a 2% drop in adjusted operating profits in the energy supply division, to £389.5 million, though the wider group posted a 2.1% rise in annual underlying pre-tax profits, to £1.55 billion.

Mitchells & Butlers shares plunged 17p to 258p as the All Bar One and Harvester owner said profits fell almost 10% to £75 million in the six months to the end of April, despite a number of measures put in place to mitigate the effects of rising inflation.

Foxtons Group dropped 3.5p to 102.5p after revenue fell 25% to £28.7 million in the quarter ending March 31, due in part to slowing sales in London.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Fresnillo up 43p to 1.606p, Tesco up 3.85p to 182.3p, Kingfisher up 7.5p to 365.7p, and Randgold Resources up 150p to 7,470p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Ashtead Group down 62p to 1,560p, CRH down 100p to 2,774p, British Land Company down 22.5p to 651.5p, and Hikma Pharmaceuticals down 49p to 1,717p.