European peers outpace FTSE 100 as ECB comments send continental stocks higher
The German Dax and French Cac 40 outperformed London’s blue chip index on Thursday.
The FTSE 100 lagged behind its continental peers after a dovish statement by the European Central Bank weighed on the euro and bolstered eurozone stocks.
The blue chip index closed higher by 0.6% or 45.4 points at 7,203.24 points, while the French Cac 40 and German Dax ended the day up 1.3% and 0.9% respectively.
David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “European equity markets received a boost from this afternoon’s European Central Bank (ECB) update.
“Mario Draghi, the head of the ECB, stated that underlying inflation is subdued and that ‘victory’ can’t be declared yet.
“The implication is the region still has some way to go in order to stimulate demand. The dovish tone of the press conference encouraged buying of stocks, and the slide in the euro added to the bullish sentiment.”
The pound was mixed, falling 0.5% against the US dollar to trade at 1.382 but rising 0.1% versus the euro to 1.121.
Brent crude prices dropped nearly 1% to 63.90 US dollars per barrel as investors continued to bemoan data released by the Energy Information Administration a day earlier which showed a further rise in US crude inventories.
In UK stocks, G4S was near the bottom of the FTSE 100, down 5.7p at 258.3p, as news of rising profits was overshadowed by sluggish trading in its emerging markets division.
It said challenging conditions in the Middle East and India weighed on sales, which fell 5.1% in 2017.
Aviva shares rose 1p to 508.6p after the insurance giant posted a 2% rise in operating profit to £3 billion in 2017, driven by a strong performance in the UK with its British arm seeing profit rise 13% to £2.2 billion.
The company also pledged to splash out more than £1 billion on acquisitions and shareholder returns.
Mining stocks took a tumble, with Anglo American dropping 51.8p to 1,707.2p, BHP Billion down 39.8p to 1,403.8p, Rio Tinto down 47.5p at 3,693p and Glencore falling 4.05p to 363.3p.
It came as prices for base metals including iron ore suffered on the back of reports that Chinese demand for commodities weakened in February.
Countrywide shares fell 1.4p to 87.5p as the troubled estate agent swung to an annual pre-tax loss of £212.1 million against profits of £19.5 million the year before after a raft of writedowns.
The estate agent also warned of further pain to come in 2018 and said it was axing around a third of its 50-strong central office team as part of cost-cutting efforts to help turn around its fortunes.
Domino’s shares rose 8.3p to 326.2p after reporting a 29.3% rise in revenues to £474.6 million, although pre-tax profits nudged down from £82.5 million to £81.2 million after it was hit by exceptional costs.
Domino’s boss David Wild said the firm had benefited since the Brexit vote, as cash-strapped UK diners chose to order food in rather than eating out in an effort to mitigate the impact of Brexit-fuelled inflation.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Mediclinic International up 28.6p to 607p, NMC Health up 88p at 3,362p, Diageo up 60.5p at 2,441p, and Unilever up 91.5p at 3,880p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Persimmon down 95p at 2,548p, Evraz down 15.6p at 439.5p, Marks and Spencer Group down 9.4p at 278.6p, and Anglo American down 51.8p at 1,707.2p.