Belfast Telegraph

Bookies race ahead as US eases gambling regulations

The US Supreme Court has ruled that a federal ban on sports betting was unconstitutional.

Bookies raced ahead in afternoon trading on Monday after the US relaxed its gambling laws, providing an opening for the likes of William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair.

The US Supreme Court has struck down a federal law which bans gambling on individual sporting events. States will now be able to choose individually whether to legalise sports betting.

Paddy Power Betfair jumped to the top of the FTSE 100 on the news, soaring by more than 12%. Shares in the betting giant closed the day 870p higher at 7,975p.

William Hill was up 30.3p to 313.1p, GVC Holdings rose 64.5p to 940p, and 888 Holdings climbed 41.6p to 312p.

Sterling was up 0.35% against the US dollar at 1.359. Fiona Cincotta, Senior Market Analyst at City Index, said this was related to US dollar weakness, as the greenback has fallen for four sessions in a row.

“The dovish inflation outlook from the Bank of England continues to weigh heavily on sentiment for the pound, it will take, at the very least, a seriously impressive wage growth number tomorrow to drag the pound out of its current familiar range,” she said.

The pound’s rise held back the FTSE 100, which closed the day down 13.57 points at 7710.98.

France’s Cac 40 was down 0.16%, while the Dax in Germany was down 0.14%.

Oil prices continued to push higher following US President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal, raising the prospect of supply declines in the region.

Towards the end of the session, Brent crude prices were 1.33% higher at 78.02 US dollars per barrel.

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Centrica's customers have been switching supplier (PA)

In UK stocks, British Gas owner Centrica lost more than 100,000 accounts in the first four months of the year as increased competition continues to see customers desert bigger energy firms.

Centrica said this was partly due to what it called “competitive intensity”.

In a trading update, the group said that “colder than normal weather has increased energy demand”. The energy firm is on track to achieve its full-year target, and shares closed the day 2p higher at 149.2p.

Serviced office provider IWG’s shares hit a seven-month high after it emerged the company had received three takeover offers.

After the close on Friday, IWG said it had received approaches about possible cash offers from Lone Star Europe, Starwood Capital, and TDR Capital.

The board is evaluating the offers, but said there is no certainty that any formal bid would be made for the company, which provides flexible work space in more than 100 countries around the world.

IWG’s shares shot up by more than 20% by the market close, rising 57.5p to 309.5p.

Dignity’s shares were lifted after revenue at the funerals firm nudged up in the first quarter, helped by a higher death rate and a better-than-expected take-up of premium services.

The under-pressure group, which has been embroiled in a price war, booked sales of £95.1 million in the 13 weeks to March 30, up from £93.3 million last year. Shares closed 29p or 2.4% higher at 1,245p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Paddy Power Betfair up 870p to 7,975p, Coca-Cola HBC up 51p at 2,571p, Mediclinic International up 13.4p to 704.6p and Shire up 74.5p to 4,137p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were G4S down 7.5p to 262.9p, Royal Mail down 17.2p to 613.8p, BT Group down 5.2p at 211.8p and ITV down 3.9p at 168.1p.

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