Oil price spike boosts US stocks as stronger sterling takes toll on FTSE
Oil exploration companies were Iseq’s best performers thanks to jump in energy stocks
Providence Resources rose by 7.8 per cent as the company dusted itself down after a series of recent drilling disappointments. Photograph: Finbarr O’Rourke
European markets were mixed, while sterling surged to a fresh one-year high against the US dollar and blue-chip stocks slumped after the Bank of England hinted that it may hike interest rates in the “coming months”.
Across the Atlantic, the S&P and Dow clawed back earlier losses on Thursday morning, helped by a jump in energy stocks as oil prices jumped, but the Nasdaq was kept lower by a drop in consumer discretionary shares.
As the price of a barrel of crude spiked, oil exploration companies were among the best performers on the Iseq, which finished the session down just over 0.5 per cent overall.
Tullow Oil, which maintains its main listing in London, was up 6.6 per cent in Dublin. Providence Resources, meanwhile, rose by 7.8 per cent as the company dusted itself down after a series of recent drilling disappointments.
It was a mixed bag for companies with large exposures to the UK market, where the pound fared well on interest rate news.
Bulmers/Magners cidermaker C&C fell by 3.5 per cent as a seller entered the market in late afternoon. Paddy Power Betfair, meanwhile, spent the day in positive territory, finishing up 2.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, Dalata, Ireland’s largest hotel company, which is also investing in the UK, rose by 3.3 per cent.
The stronger pound took its toll on the FTSE 100, which closed down 84.31 points to 7,295.39. Multinational blue-chip stocks suffer when the pound rises because their overseas earnings are hit by less favourable currency translation.
High street retailer Next rose after the group upped its earnings outlook after “encouraging” trading. The fashion group hiked its sales and profit guidance as it said trading had turned a corner after a difficult start to its half-year, although pre-tax profits still fell 9.5 per cent to £309.4 million for the six months to the end of July. Shares soared 13 per cent, up 577p to 4,994p.
Sky drifted lower after UK culture secretary Karen Bradley confirmed 21st Century Fox’s £11.7 billion takeover bid would be be referred to the competition watchdog for an in-depth probe. 21st Century Fox is controlled by the Murdoch family – Rupert and his sons Lachlan and James – and is attempting to seize control of the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own.
Germany’s Dax is down 0.1 per cent and the Cac 40 in France was 0.2 per cent higher. Italy’s ENI rose 1.03 per cent and France’s Total gained 0.46 per cent, helping lift the Euro STOXX 50 index of leading EU shares.
Danish pension fund ATP has agreed to buy a 27.7 per cent stake in Copenhagen Airports (CPH) from Australia’s Macquarie for about 9.8 billion Danish crowns (€1.3 billion).
Shares in the airport company rose as much as 12.3 per cent after the announcement, to 5,750 crowns per share. It closed at 5,620 crowns on Thursday.
French insurer Axa is reportedly reviewing options for its European asset management unit amid consolidation in the sector. Its shares rose 0.1 per cent to close at €24.81 in Paris trading on Thursday. Natixis gained 1.1 per cent to €6.57.
Rising demand pushed US crude above $50 a barrel on Thursday morning. Energy stocks helped put the Dow in positive territory as Exxon Mobil rose 0.22 per cent to $79.93 while Chevron gained 0.25 per cent to $114.47. Also giving the Dow a boost was Boeing, which rose 1.3 per cent after Deutsche Bank raised its price target.
The consumer discretionary index was down 0.33 per cent, led by declines of 0.7 per cent to 0.9 per cent in Amazon, Disney and Charter Communications.
Equifax tumbled as much as 8.9 per cent to its lowest level since February 2015 after the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into the company’s massive data breach.
– (Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg/PA)