Belfast Telegraph

Thomas Cook under pressure as it sends cautious signals for 2017

Investors left Thomas Cook nursing a hefty fall after the travel giant said it was cautious for 2017 and revealed a blow from intense competition to popular Spanish island resorts.

The firm was the biggest faller on the second tier - dropping nearly 8% % or 7.1p to 84.9p - despite underlying operating losses improving by 2% on a like-for-like basis to £49 million in its typically quieter quarter to the end of December.

On the top tier, the FTSE 100 Index closed up 40.68 points to 7,229.5 thanks to a strong performance from financial stocks, with Royal Bank of Scotland up more than 2%, or 5.7p to 233.1p.

Standard Life was riding high, rising 8.2p to 365.4p, while Barclays climbed 4.6p to 229.6p.

Across the Atlantic, Twitter was on the back foot after it reported that losses had widened amid a drop in advertising sales.

Net losses ballooned to 167 million US dollars (£133 million) in the fourth quarter, compared to 90 million US dollars (£71 million) a year earlier, with advertising sales falling slightly to 638 million US dollars (£507 million).

It dragged on total revenues for the three months to December 31, which rose only 1% to 717 million US dollars (£571 million).

Shares were down 10%, or 1.91 US dollars to 16.81 US dollars, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Across Europe, the Cac 40 in France jumped 1.25% and Germany's Dax was up 0.8%.

On the currency markets, the pound was down 0.1% against the US dollar at 1.252, but rose 0.2% versus the euro at 1.174.

Sterling slipped against the greenback amid reports US President Donald Trump would announce a major tax plan in a few weeks.

The price of oil was up 0.7% to 55.5 US dollars a barrel after American gas inventories signalled a higher demand in the world's biggest oil market.

In UK stocks, DFS pushed higher after it said sales continued to rise in the first half of the year and it is well positioned to weather any potential dip in consumer confidence.

DFS said gross sales in the 26 weeks to January 28 rose by 7%, with an encouraging contribution from its Dwell and Sofa Workshop brands.

But in a first-half trading update, it also warned of an "increased risk" of a market slowdown.

Shares were up 2p to 231p, as the Doncaster-based group said it is working to mitigate the impact of the weak pound by negotiating better deals with suppliers.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Royal Bank of Scotland up 5.7p to 233.1p, Mediclinic International up 20p to 825.5p, Standard Life up 8.2p to 365.4p, Prudential up 33p to 1,600.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Anglo American down 35.5p to 1,295.5p, Worldpay down 7.3p to 274p, Fresnillo down 40p to 1,529p, TUI down 24p to 1,165p.