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London close: Monday malaise stifles FTSE as House of Lords debates Brexit bill

By Andrew Schonberg

Date: Monday 20 Feb 2017

London close: Monday malaise stifles FTSE as House of Lords debates Brexit bill

(ShareCast News) - Equities in London turned in a Monday performance laden with malaise, with Unilever a notable faller as its bid premium evaporated, the US was closed for Presidents Day holiday and lively Brexit discussions began in the UK House of Lords.
The FTSE 100 closed down 0.0% to 7,299.86 and the FTSE 250 ended up 0.21% to 18,746.22. Across Europe, the Euro Stoxx 50 and DAX were up, but the CAC 40 slipped.

"A day without US traders is usually a day for twiddling thumbs in European markets, and today has been no exception," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

"Friday's bounce in risk assets has seen no real follow through across European and UK bourses," he said, noting the focus on Unilever.

Unilever sank more than 6% as Kraft Heinz ditched its takeover plans, just two days after it emerged the London-listed consumer goods giant had rejected a $143bn offer.

Unsurprisingly, the FTSE 350 index for personal goods, which features Unilever, was down more than 5%. It was followed by drops of roughly 1% by the 350 indices for household goods and food producers, while that for miners rose by more than 1%.

Blue-chip stocks figuring lower included Reckitt Benckiser, Imperial Brands, Coca-Cola HBC and Tesco. Also falling were housebuilders led by Barratt Developments, and utilities guided by Severn Trent.

Of those heading higher were Royal Bank of Scotland, Rolls-Royce and Hammerson. Miners were led up by Antofagasta and Glencore, and were followed by several insurers and banks.

Meantime, it was the House of Lords' discussion on UK's Brexit Bill that traders focused on, with Prime Minister Theresa May needing this to be passed into law before she can trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Once that was triggered, UK would have up to two years before it finally quit the bloc, this following last year's divisive referendum that laid the foundations.

"Whilst Parliament decided it was largely down to the Prime Minister to decide when to enact Article 50, there are fears that the House of Lords will attempt to make amendments," said another from IG, market analyst Joshua Mahony.

Overall, however, SpreadEx financial analyst Connor Campbell summed it up when he said that the FTSE was broadly flat, struggling with both Unilever's decline and the pound's rebound.

"Talking of sterling, the currency maintained a half a percent rise against the dollar (likely affected by the US holiday) and 0.3% against the arguably Greece-worried euro," Campbell said.

In corporate news, house-builder Bovis Homes slumped after it reported a 3% drop in full-year pre-tax profit to £155m that fell short of analysts' expectations.

Shares in Interserve tanked after the construction and support services group said exiting the energy-from-waste market was likely to cost £160m, up from a previous provision of £70m.

On the upside, Royal Bank of Scotland rallied after saying it will abandon plans to sell its Williams & Glyn business and instead provide funds to help challenger banks, if a Treasury proposal is accepted by the European Commission.

Retail property group Hammerson gained ground as it said full year adjusted profits rose 9.4% to £230.7m on a jump in net rental income to £346.5m from £318.6m.

Direct Line racked up healthy gains after the insurer said new rules determining lump sum payouts for injury claims would have less of an impact on the company than it previously thought.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,299.86 -0.00%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,746.22 0.21%
techMARK (TASX) 3,356.27 0.11%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 258.90p 6.81%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 708.00p 6.31%
Hammerson (HMSO) 588.50p 4.25%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 858.50p 2.57%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 501.50p 2.39%
Glencore (GLEN) 327.00p 2.36%
BT Group (BT.A) 323.30p 2.28%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 361.90p 2.26%
Standard Life (SL.) 375.40p 2.23%
Aviva (AV.) 505.50p 1.42%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Unilever (ULVR) 3,548.00p -6.56%
Pearson (PSON) 642.50p -3.89%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 802.00p -3.14%
Capita (CPI) 514.00p -1.53%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,571.00p -1.46%
ITV (ITV) 203.10p -1.17%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,737.00p -1.16%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 514.50p -1.15%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 175.60p -1.07%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 765.00p -1.03%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Ascential (ASCL) 317.80p 3.75%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 269.00p 3.74%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 397.00p 2.53%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,496.00p 2.46%
SIG (SHI) 111.10p 2.40%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 470.70p 2.33%
Rank Group (RNK) 208.30p 2.31%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 270.70p 2.27%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 628.50p 2.20%
AO World (AO.) 160.00p 2.04%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 755.00p -10.23%
BGEO Group (BGEO) 2,920.00p -5.99%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,872.00p -2.25%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 1,668.00p -2.23%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,080.00p -1.82%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 529.00p -1.76%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 422.50p -1.74%
CYBG (CYBG) 269.80p -1.71%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 456.80p -1.62%
Elementis (ELM) 300.10p -1.57%

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