Belfast Telegraph

Sky's fall takes FTSE 100 lower as fewer customers sign up with TV giant

Pay TV giant Sky led the FTSE 100 Index lower after it signed up fewer new customers and as fears mounted over rights to top-flight German football.

Sky saw its shares drop 5% as it said it won 177,000 new customers in the three months to March - 160,000 fewer than the previous quarter.

The wider FTSE 100 was 36.3 points lower at 6373.9 despite solid gains for banks and commodity stocks, with oil giants helped as the cost of crude leapt to five-month highs.

Sky was the biggest blue chip faller, down 48.8p to 979.3p, as the customer woes overshadowed figures revealing a 12% rise in earnings to £1.1 billion in the nine months to March, driven by strong growth in Europe, while r evenues rose 5% to £8.7 billion.

Shares were also under pressure due to uncertainty over rights to Bundesliga matches after Germany approved plans to keep any single buyer from winning all live TV rights for the matches.

The FTSE 100 was also dragged lower by stocks going ex-dividend, meaning new buyers no longer qualify for the latest dividend payment.

This left outsourcing giant Capita 36.5p lower at 1012.5p, defence contractor BAE Systems down 18.7p to 491.9p and medical devices company Smith & Nephew off 29.5p to 1140.5p.

But financials were doing well, as were oil stocks after the cost of Brent crude rose above 46 US dollars a barrel at one stage, before settling at more than 45.85 US dollars, reaching prices not seen since last November.

Oil prices have dominated markets once more this week, initially coming under pressure after producers failed to reach agreement on production cuts over the weekend.

But crude rebounded in late session trading on Wednesday thanks to a smaller than expected increase in US crude inventories and hopes of a deal to tackle the global supply glut.

BP lifted 2% or 5.6p to 369.2p and Royal Dutch Shell rose 13p to 1833p.

Among banks, Royal Bank of Scotland was the top FTSE 100 riser, up 5.1p to 254.6p ahead of next week's raft of first quarter results from the major players.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes was 2% or 2.3p higher at 118.8p in the FTSE 250 Index after it said group net revenue jumped 10.6% year-on-year in the first quarter, with UK retail net revenue up 4.1% and digital revenue up 36.5%.