Betting giants race ahead as London market falls
The FTSE 100 Index closed down 27.28 points at 7,320.75.
Britain’s betting giants enjoyed a winning streak on Thursday after Ladbrokes Coral revived takeover talks with the owner of online rival Foxy Bingo.
Ladbrokes Coral soared 29% on the second tier, or 39.4p to 175.1p, after the pair revealed “detailed” discussions over a tie-up that would see GVC pay £3.1 billion in cash and shares for the company.
GVC was also up 45.5p to 954.5p, as the two firms said the final price could reach £3.9 billion depending on the outcome of a government review into controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
William Hill was also having a strong session on the FTSE 250 after it reached an agreement with US firm Scientific Games over a planned takeover of betting and gaming company NYX.
Shares lifted 23.6p to 315p
However, the FTSE 100 Index closed down 27.28 points at 7,320.75 as insurance and mining stocks dragged on the top flight.
Shares in Rio Tinto dropped 58p to 3,440.5p, while Anglo American slipped 9.5p to 1,343p.
David Madden, market analyst CMC Markets, said: “The mining sector is under pressure as iron ore futures and coke futures in China fell by 7.5% and 8% respectively – both hit their daily downward limit.
“Traders were concerned about declining demand during winter.”
Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax ended the day up around 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively.
On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.3% against the US dollar at 1.34 despite continued uncertainty over the Brexit divorce deal.
Sterling was also 0.3% higher versus the euro at 1.13.
In oil markets, Brent crude prices rose 0.8% to around $61.73 per barrel, as the commodity rebounded from a drop a day earlier following reports of a further build up in energy stocks in the US.
Data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed a rise in fuel stockpiles raised concerns about an energy glut just as prices were starting to recover.
In UK stocks, Sky shares rose 9p to 997p as rumours intensified that 21st Century Fox is edging closer towards a deal that could see Disney buy a significant slice of its media empire, which would include its 39% stake in Sky.
Fox-owner Rupert Murdoch and his family are reportedly favouring a transaction with Disney over Comcast because regulators would be more likely to clear the deal and they would rather be paid in Disney stock, according to Reuters.
Legal & General group fell 1.8p to 259.9p despite reporting that it is on course for a record year of profits, driven by what it called “formidable momentum” in its core business divisions.
The group pointed to areas such as its retirement unit, which has delivered total sales of £6.2 billion in the year to date, thanks to strong performances in the UK and US pension markets.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Pearson up 16p at 737p, BT Group up 5.6p at 262.8p, Mediclinic International up 8.5p at 590.5p, and Vodafone Group up 3.1p at 227.9p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Babcock International Group down 23.5p at 654.5p, Admiral Group down 49p at 1,844p, Associated British Foods down 68p at 2,852p, and Direct Line Insurance Group down 7.9p at 357.1p.