London close: Footsie drops 100 points on political uncertainty in Europe



LONDON (ShareCast) - Increased political risk in the Eurozone presented a good opportunity for traders to take profits on Monday, as investors made the most of the recent surge on stock markets worldwide.

The FTSE 100 dropped 100 points today, a fall of around 1.6%. This follows the impressive 6.4% gain seen last month, the index's best January performance since 1989.

"Last night's power failure at the US Super Bowl appears to have manifested itself into European equity markets today as the sentiment that had fed the strong rally of recent weeks appears to have come to a shuddering halt," said senior market analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.

"Investors are once again being spooked by political uncertainty from both Spain and Italy as both countries deal with local political difficulties that could derail ongoing and future reform programmes."

Peripheral bond yields rise on political risk

Spanish 10-year bond yields were at their highest levels of 2013 today, up 22 basis points at 5.43%, as markets digest rumours over corruption scandals at Prime Minister (PM) Mariano Rajoy's governing People's Party.

"The fear for investors is that these allegations, though denied by PM Rajoy, will prompt bouts of civil unrest and the removal of the current government which would pave the way for general elections," explained Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital.

Over in Italy, the borrowing rate on the Italian benchmark note rose 14 basis points to 4.47% as the support gains for former PM Silvio Berlusconi in the public opinion polls. With just a few weeks to go before parliamentary elections, markets are fearing a political deadlock post-election.

Meanwhile, back in London, economic data was doing its bit to dampen sentiment. Markit's UK construction purchasing managers' index (PMI) was unchanged at a six-month low of 48.7 in January. Consensus forecasts were for a small up-tick to 49.

FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) : Randgold bucks the trend in mining sector

Gold miner Randgold surged after saying it achieved record production and profit levels in 2012. Production is expected to increase by at least 13% in 2013 also.

However, the wider mining sector didn't fare as well, with resource giants Kazakhmys (LSE: KAZ.L - news) , ENRC and Glencore suffering steep falls as risk appetite slipped.

The cyclical banking sector was also under the weather today after UK Chancellor George Osborne warned lenders that the government could separate retail operations from riskier activities if they break the rules. RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) , Standard Chartered (Other OTC: SCBFF - news) , HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) , Lloyds and Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) were all lower.

Barclays was also being weighed down after announcing that its long-running Finance Director, Chris Lucas, has stepped down ahead of the group's conclusion of its strategic review in the coming weeks

Johnson Matthey (LSE: JMAT.L - news) was a heavy faller after Citi cut the precious metals and chemicals group from 'buy' to 'neutral'. Meanwhile, telecoms giant Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L - news) was also taken down a peg by Citi, which cut its rating for the stock to 'neutral'.

FTSE 250 (FTSE: ^FTMC - news) : Salamander surges after oil find

Oil and gas exploration and production company Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR.L - news) rocketed after saying it has discovered oil at the first well in its multi-well programme in the North Kutei Basin. The well, known technically as the South Kecapi-1 DIR/ST (BSE: STCORP.BO - news) exploration well, discovered a combined 40 metres of net oil and gas pay in high quality stacked Pliocene channel sandstones, the group reported.

Gold miner Centamin (Toronto: CEE.TO - news) was a high riser on market chatter that a decision over the validity of its flagship Sukari mine contract is imminent. Centamin plummeted in late-October on concerns that it could lose the mining contract. Risk Thakrar, the risk manager and senior dealer at Spread Co, said in an e-mail today: "Despite there being no official announcements, rumours have provided enough momentum to push the stock through [technical] resistance barriers."

Transport firm Go-Ahead was advancing after HSBC upgraded the stock to 'overweight and raised its target price from 1,180p to 1,415p.

FTSE 100 - Risers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,275.00p +3.12%
Shire Plc (LSE: SHP.L - news) (SHP) 2,153.00p +0.84%
Burberry Group (Other OTC: BBRYF - news) (BRBY) 1,397.00p +0.72%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 972.50p +0.15%
Next (NXT) 4,103.00p +0.12%
IMI (IMI (LSE: IMI.L - news) ) 1,185.00p +0.08%
TUI Travel (LSE: TT.L - news) (TT (BSE: TTL.BO - news) .) 297.20p +0.07%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Aviva (AV.) 351.90p -4.40%
CRH (CRH (NYSE: CRH - news) ) 1,310.00p -4.31%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,243.00p -3.57%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 727.50p -3.51%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 328.60p -3.49%
Prudential (LSE: PRU.L - news) (PRU) 934.50p -3.16%
Standard Life (LSE: SL.L - news) (SL.) 337.70p -3.13%
Schroders (SDR) 1,913.00p -2.94%
Barclays (BARC) 291.50p -2.83%
Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO.L - news) (ANTO) 1,127.00p -2.76%

FTSE 250 - Risers
Salamander Energy (SMDR) 208.00p +11.83%
Centamin (DI (KSE: 003160.KS - news) ) (CEY) 64.15p +6.21%
Perform Group (PER) 390.00p +3.17%
Regus (RGU) 124.40p +2.81%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 920.00p +2.79%
Essar Energy (LSE: ESSR.L - news) (ESSR) 144.00p +2.71%
Sports Direct International (LSE: SPD.L - news) (SPD) 413.00p +2.51%
Cranswick (CWK) 995.00p +2.47%
Oxford Instruments (LSE: OXIG.L - news) (OXIG) 1,752.00p +2.16%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 985.50p +2.12%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
National Express Group (NEX) 203.00p -3.70%
Lonmin (LMI) 366.40p -3.60%
Carpetright (CPR) 676.50p -3.36%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 261.60p -3.36%
Carillion (CLLN) 298.90p -3.30%
IP Group (LSE: IPO.L - news) (IPO) 124.00p -3.12%
Laird (LRD) 226.60p -3.08%
Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV.L - news) (BDEV) 217.50p -3.07%
Ocado Group (Other OTC: OCDGF - news) (OCDO) 103.00p -2.83%
Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW.L - news) (TW.) 71.85p -2.77%