UK stocks fall for a second day on Wednesday as London markets mirroring declines in the US overnight as investors fret over global growth ahead of the US earnings season. Hefty falls by engineering groups and a sliding travel sector lead the Footsie 19 points lower to 6,476.
Auto engineer GKN (GKN) leads the FTSE 100 loser board, the shares off 3.8% to 293.7p, on worries about worldwide economic growth trends, but it is not alone. Johnson Matthey (JMAT) (off 2.7% at £27.97) and IMI (IMI) (down 2.3% at £11.50) are also in decline as investor sentiment turns sour.
Airlines and travel tour operators are also under pressure as the threat of an Ebola outbreak in Spain spread fear around the markets. Easyjet (EZJ) (down 18p at £13.71), Carnival (CCL) (1.4% down at £22.95) and TUI Travel (TUI) (2.4% lower at 372.8p) are all trading in the red, although British Airways-owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) recovers early losses to stay flat at 345.5p.
Supermarket Tesco (TSCO) continues its bounce after the shares' recent slump as analysts at HSBC remove the stock from its 'overweight' list, switching to a 'neutral' stance. That sparks a 2.5% share price rally to 187.15p. Rivals Sainsbury (SBRY) and Morrison (MRW) are also on the front foot, albeit modestly, up 1.6% to 234p and 0.5% at 160.2p respectively.
Recently merged electricals-to-telecoms powerhouse Dixons Carphone (DC.), a likely beneficiary of Phones 4U's recent lurch into administration, cheapens 1.75p to 366.75p ahead of a strategy update for analysts and investors.
Bus and train operator FirstGroup (FGP) slips 3.6% lower to 110.9p after failing to keep its Scotrail franchise from April next year. Coming alongside an in line trading update, the group has already lost its First Capital Connect London commuter franchise and failed in a bid to run London-Scotland sleeper trains.
Problems on Oilex's (OEX:AIM) unconventional Cambay field in India see the shares retreat 14.3% to 5.25p. Issues replacing the frack 'tree' with a standard production tree (essentially the equipment used to manage the sub-surface conditions of the well) led to a 13 day delay - stirring negative memories of the group's previous well on Cambay which should have been drilled for less than $15 million in around 30 days, but thanks to technical setbacks, took 11 months with costs running to $25 million.
Beleaguered builder Balfour Beatty (BBY) sheds 1.5% to 165.8p as reports suggest that its loss-making Blackpook airport will be closed next year after failing to find a buyer. The airport was acquired for £14 million back in 2008.
An upgrade from ‘buy’ to ‘hold’ by broker Peel Hunt helps support services and construction business Interserve (IRV) 3.8% higher to 611p. The £879 million cap trades on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 10.8, according to Morningstar data, with consensus earnings per share for 2014 at 54.6p.
Equipment rental firm Ashtead (AHT) sinks 3.6% to 941p after a heavy sell-off in New York-listed rival United Rentals (URI:NYSE). United Rentals closed 7% lower in the US session overnight after a downgrade by Bank of America from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’.