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07 Mar, 2008

By Phil Cozens | 14:13:07 | 07 March 2008

(Update) The FTSE 100 index has plunged through the psychological 5,700 level after another dismal session in New York overnight following fresh jolts in the credit markets and lacklustre retail sales, prompting renewed recession fears.

Wall Street was hit by the suspension of hedge fund Carlyle Capital after failing to meet margin calls from some of its lenders, new sales figures from leading retailers showing cash poor shoppers are trading down and a spike in home mortgage foreclosures to a record high.

By 9.45am the FTSE 100 index was 70 points down at 5,698, after dropping to 5,663, while the Mid-250 index was 146 points weaker at 9,845.

In Europe the German DAX was trailing 87 points down.

Mining and financials were among the worst performers.

Rio Tinto tumbled 214p to £55.93 as the group again rejected the hostile offer from BHP Billiton, 65p easier at £16.15. Anglo American at £33.35 and Lonmin £33.72 retreated 106p and 124p.

Barclays at 417p, Royal Bank of Scotland 330p, Man Group 543p and Schroders 937p represented a dull banking sector with falls of 13p to 21p.

Friends Provident slipped 5.4p to 116.1 as bid hopes faded, but Resolution were supported at 693.5p in anticipation of early Pearl offer approval.

Pub shares were overshadowed by a cautious statement and 13% first-half profits setback from JD Wetherspoon, 30p easier at 281.75p with Enterprise Inns declining 21p to 392p in sympathy.

British Airways softened 3p to 242p on further consideration of yesterday's warning on costs.

British Land at 933p, Cairn Energy £26.67, Imperial Tobacco £23.38, Reckitt Benckiser £26.23, Severn Trent £13.71 and Whitbread £12.30 were other major weak spots with losses of between 25p and 60p.

Among the smaller caps Manganese Bronze stood out with a drop of 41.5p to 495p and widening losses knocked 3.62p, or 59%, from Mission Capital at 2.5p.

A major OEM deal sustained Newport Networks at 1.83p, up 0.8p and Chelford Group surged 36p to 208.5p following the agreed bid from Solarsoft.

Favourable trading updates benefited Candover Investments at £20.40 and Interquest 94p, up 5p and 8p.

Static full-year profits left Marshalls languishing at 251p, down 13p and acquisition news unsettled Thomas Cook at 289p, down 8p.

A 22.4% rise in February traffic did little for easyJet, 6.75p lower at 403p.

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