FTSE stays quiet on summer solstice
Oil rises over US-Iran tensions but markets remain muted after busy week of central bank announcements
Investors seemed more interested in enjoying the sunshine on the longest day of the year on Friday, rather than making any money, as markets barely moved.
The FTSE 100 closed down 16.94 points, or 0.23%, at 7407.5, but it was a quiet day all round, with the number of shares trading at low levels.
Tensions between the US and Iran had some impact, with oil prices rising and the oil majors getting a boost to their shares.
President Donald Trump tweeted that the US was 10 minutes away from launching a strike on Iran, following the downing of a US drone earlier in the week.
The prospect that oil-rich Iran could get dragged into a conflict made some investors think the price of a barrel could keep rising as supply is reduced.
On Friday, a barrel of Brent Crude was up 1.04% to 65.12 dollars – following a 4% jump on Thursday.
BP was up 1.26% at 556.2p and Royal Dutch Shell was up 0.37% at 2,595p.
Connor Campbell at Spreadex said: “The day’s biggest winner was the euro, which benefited from a broadly better than forecast set of flash PMIs out of the Eurozone (the currency chose to ignore that both the German and region-wide manufacturing sectors continued to contract, if at a slower rate than last month).”
As a result of the PMIs – which measured sentiment in manufacturing and services across Europe and came in higher than expected – the pound suffered.
The pound fell 0.35% to 1.1214 euros, and against the dollar it was flat with one pound being worth 1.2701 dollars.
But overall, it was a quiet day, following a busy week that saw central bankers hinting at new measures to tackle the slowing world economy.
Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, explained: “With evidence in recent months mounting that the global economy was slowing, it was an opportunity for central banks this week to give their steer on policy rates.
“The biggest lift for stock markets came at the beginning of the week with Mario Draghi [the president of the European Central Bank] hinting at the possibilities of stimulus coming along.”
In company news, Lloyds Banking Group was hit with a £45.5 million fine by the Financial Conduct Authority over failing to spot suspected fraud at Bank of Scotland’s Reading branch.
The historical issues barely moved shares, however, closing down just 0.5% at 58.1p.
Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley threatened directors of Goals Soccer Centres with a boardroom coup after they rebuffed his efforts to hire an investigator of his choice. Shares in the company, which Sports Direct has an 18.9% stake in, have been suspended since March over an accounting scandal.
Advertising giant WPP sold a majority stake in its post-production business The Farm for an estimated £50 million. The shares closed down 1.24% at 972.4p.
And the Trainline made its stock market debut, with shares soaring in early trading. The offer price of 350p – valuing the train booking business at £1.7 billion – quickly soared by more than 25%, closing the day out at 411p, a rise of 17%.
The biggest riser on the FTSE 100 was Ocado, thanks to a positive analyst note from Citigroup. Shares closed up 4.17% at 1148.5p. At the other end, Rolls Royce closed down 3.4% at 882p – making it the biggest faller.
The aeroplane engine maker took the hit after JP Morgan analysts said the company’s guidance on improving the environmental impact from their engines was “unrealistic”.