Miners drag FTSE further down off record highs
The FTSE 100 has slipped into the red after another day of losses for top mining shares, offsetting a bumper session for Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce saw its shares climb by nearly a quarter on Thursday after beating forecasts with its full-year profits and revealing transformation plans that are moving “at pace”.
The aviation engineer – which is known for its plane engines and no longer connected to the luxury car brand of the same name – soared to the top of the FTSE 100 after its shares jumped to a 14-month high.
But mining giants dragged on the UK’s leading index in the face of weaker prices for commodities like iron and metal, with Chile-based miner Antofagasta sinking to the bottom after declining by more than 5%.
It was also slowed by a number of top shares going ex-dividend, deterring new investors from cashing in.
The FTSE 100 closed 0.29% lower, down 22.91 points to 7,907.72, marking the third day of decline and dragging it down further from the record highs it reached earlier in the month.
It was a much stronger session for European markets, with the German Dax up 0.58% and the French Cac up 0.38% at close.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “European markets have seen a broadly positive session today with the Dax on course to post its highest close in over a year, while the FTSE 100 has been hampered by the likes of several big companies going ex-dividend, including GSK, AstraZeneca, Unilever, and Standard Chartered which are contriving to pull up to 35 points off the UK benchmark.
“Rolls-Royce shares have soared to 14-month highs after reporting full-year revenues and profits that beat forecasts.
“New chief executive Tufan Erginbilgic also announced the beginning of a strategic review which should also give a clearer idea of the direction he intends to take the business.”
Across the pond, the US’s top stocks were on the back foot in early trading after official figures showed that jobless numbers were lower than expected, with the S&P 500 down 0.45% and Dow Jones down 0.62% when European markets closed.
The pound was down by about 0.25% to 1.202 US dollars and flat against the euro to 1.1358.
In company news, defence giant BAE Systems saw its highest ever order intake last year as countries bolstered their systems in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The firm said it was “tragic that it took a war in Europe to raise the awareness of the importance of defence systems around the globe”, but that it was well positioned to help keep citizens safe amid the “elevated threat environment”.
Shares in BAE slipped by just 0.02% at close.
Engineering and consulting firm John Wood Group saw its share price leap by more than 30% after telling shareholders it had rejected a bid approach from Apollo Global Management.
The company said it had received three “unsolicited, preliminary and conditional” proposals from Apollo, but said it thinks they significantly undervalue the group’s prospects.
Its share price closed 29% higher.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Rolls-Royce, up 25.48p to 133.1p, IAG Group, up 6.88p to 165.44p, WPP, up 35p to 1,051.5p, Ocado Group, up 20p to 638.2p, and Melrose Industries, up 4.35p to 146.85p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Antofagasta, down 91.5p to 1,582.5p, Mondi, down 71p to 1,406.5p, Endeavor Mining, down 56p to 1,689p, BT Group, down 3.65p to 137.2p, and Astrazeneca, down 290p to 11,210p.