The FTSE 100 trades slightly lower on Thursday morning, a sign of investors being cautious ahead of the first European Central Bank meeting since the Brexit vote.

Other factors behind the blue chip index trading 0.36% lower at 6,705.91 are concerns over the outlook for airlines.

Budget carrier Easyjet (EZJ) leads the blue chip fallers trading 5.9% lower at £10.60. A third quarter update points to a tougher environment with events in Turkey and Nice hitting consumer confidence. Only 65% of expected bookings for the fourth quarter have been secured.

Investors may also be concerned by a profit warning from German carrier Lufthansa (LHA:DE). British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) falls 3% to 408.1p in early trading.

Another FTSE loser is office and retail developer Land Securities (LAND). Shares fall 1.7% to £10.81 on subdued demand forecasts linked to the uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s divorce from the European Union (EU).

Industrial equipment rental company Ashtead (ANT) leads the index’s rises gaining 4.8% to £11.82 after analysts at investment bank Jefferies maintained a buy rating with £13.85 target price.

In the FTSE 250, online electrical retailer AO World (AO.) sparks up 7.8% to 144.9p on a strong first quarter trading update, flagging 25% UK sales growth amid improving brand awareness as well as news of pleasing progress with the European business.

Elsewhere, bookmaker William Hill (WMH) climbs 3.4% to 284.5p after sacking chief executive James Henderson. His two-year reign has been blighted by a profit warning following the usually lucrative Cheltenham Festival and a struggling online business. The search for Henderson’s successor has begun.

Food ingredients play Tate & Lyle (TATE) sweetens up 11p to 709.5p on a strong first quarter update highlighting a tasty start to the year, with profit ahead of the comparative period in constant currency.

Generating less than 2% of its revenues in the UK, with most of its sales being US dollar based, Tate notes 'sterling has weakened significantly in recent weeks and, if current exchange rates were to prevail for the remainder of the financial year, our reported earnings would increase strongly due to US dollar and other currency movements.'

However, soft drinks group Britvic (BVIC) cheapens 2.5p to 619.5p as it reports a 0.7% third quarter organic sales drop to £326.5 million, its performance not helped by wet weather in June.

The Fruit Shoot-to-Robinsons seller also warns the Brexit vote 'creates additional consumer and economic uncertainty whilst the weakening of sterling will place pressure on our input costs in Great Britain', though believes it can still deliver full-year EBITA within the previously guided £180 million-to-£190 million range.


Issue Date: 21 Jul 2016