The FTSE 100 finished the first trading session of the week in the red, shedding 0.54% to close at 7,445.25 points. Housebuilders dragged on the blue chip benchmark on the UK Government’s plans to force them to pay to fix the cladding crisis which has followed the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.
The more domestically-focused FTSE 250 ended the day 1.5% lower at 23,001.81 points.
Investor sentiment was also affected by rising Covid-19 cases across Europe and the prospect of earlier than expected rate hikes in the US following last week’s release of the US Federal Reserve’s December meeting minutes.
Goldman Sachs now predicts the Fed will raise rates by no less than four times this year.
Supermarket Sainsbury (SBRY), Tesco (TSCO), online fashion retailers Boohoo (BOO:AIM) and ASOS (ASC:AIM) and consumer favourites like Marks & Spencer (MKS), JD Sports (JD.) and Games Workshop (GAW) are all due to update on Christmas trading this week.
Derivatives trading platform Plus500 (PLUS) rose 3% to £14.81 after it said it expects annual profit to beat market expectations even after slower fourth quarter growth.
Drug developer Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) plans to launch a new outsourced sterile compounding business focused on providing high quality, ready-to-administer injectable medications that are customised to the specific needs of patients in the US. Investors shrugged off the news leaving the shares 1.45% down at £21.03.
Private hospitals operator Spire Healthcare (SPI) perked up 0.2% to 251p on news it will again provide support to the NHS this winter as Omicron infections run wild across the UK.
The terms are still to be settled but it is anticipated that the deal will operate on similar terms to the contract in place during January to March 2021 which was announced on 21 December 2020.
OTHER RISERS AND FALLERS
Avacta (AVCT:AIM) plunged 33.4% to 77.25p after being forced to pause the sale of its AffiDX antigen test as it does not perform as well against Omicron as previous variants.
In a statement to investors, the company said laboratory analysis indicates that the sensitivity of the test is reduced at lower viral loads when compared with the sensitivity of the test with previous Covid variants.
Mexican restaurant group Tortilla Mexican Grill (MEX:AIM) rallied 3.8% to 190.5p as it guided for annual profits and revenue to come in ‘materially ahead’ of its expectations.
The company, which listed in October, said its revenue for the year to December had jumped 79% to £48.1 million, up from £26.8 million in 2020 and £35.4 million in 2019.
Shares in Marks Electrical (MRK:AIM) were marked 1.3% lower to 118p despite news the online televisions, fridge freezers and washing machines retailer had shrugged off supply chain challenges and demanding comparatives to deliver record sales for the all-important Christmas quarter to December 2021.
The fast-growing online retailer managed to cope with a surge in demand for its products by working closely with suppliers in order to maintain inventory levels during the festive period and insisted it remains on track to achieve its 2022 targets.
Podcast company Audioboom (BOOM:AIM) firmed 5.9% to £14.93 as it guided for annual performance ahead of market expectations after revenue more than doubled, led by ad-tech related sales.