Friday, October 26 09:49:08
Britain's top shares fell today reflecting caution over the corporate earnings picture after disappointing results from U.S. tech firms Apple and Amazon. Results from the global tech giants undershot expectations overnight, while in Europe on Friday, Renault, Saint Gobain, Gucci and Publicis all weighed in with gloomy earnings and outlooks. So far, 40 percent of European companies have missed third-quarter profit expectations, compared with around 30 percent in the United States, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data. "At least so far it seems to be the case that the recent improvement seen in some of the U.S. economic data especially what housing and consumer confidence is concerned hasn't completely filtered through to the corporate sector yet," said Markus Huber, head of German High Net Worth trading at ETX Capital.
Chip designer ARM Holdings, of which Apple is a big customer, fell 2.4 percent, extending the previous session's declines, albeit having been boosted on Wednesday by its own forecast-busting third-quarter results. At 0818 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 35.55 points, or 0.6 percent at 5,769.52, having finished flat on Thursday, with the index on course for a 2.2 percent decline on the week, reversing a 1.8 percent gain seen in the previous week. "FTSE looking very vulnerable right now on a technical basis having broken the 5 month uptrend with the next support level about 2.5 percent lower at 5,635 so further weakness is the most likely scenario," said Lex van Dam, hedge fund manager at Hampstead Capital, which manages around $500 million of assets.
Falls by risk sensitive banks were the main drag on the blue chips. The sector fell 1.2 percent, retreating after having been the best performer on Thursday following stronger than expected British third-quarter GDP data, which showed the UK economy moving out of recession. Heavyweight miners were also weak. Anglo American, however, bucked the sector trend, adding 1.2 percent on speculative interest after the miner said Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll has decided to step down from her post with the board's agreement.
Pearson was also a good gainer, up 1.8 percent. The British education and publishing group said at the close on Thursday that it and German media firm Bertelsmann are in talks to combine their publishing divisions, Penguin and Random House. The media sector overall got a boost from an upgrade to "overweight" from "neutral" by Goldman Sachs in a European strategy review. The bank also upgraded its stance on the Food and Beverages sector to "neutral" from "underweight", while downgrading its stances on the Basic Resources and Chemicals and Oil & Gas sectors to "neutral" and "underweight" respectively.
"While we expect the global economy to show some recovery ... we do not expect this to be strong enough to merit a strong cyclical bias. Meanwhile we have become more cautious on the longer-term outlook for commodities and materials," Goldman said in a note. ( C) Reuters