Fears that inflationary pressures will be more persistent than originally anticipated, coupled with concerns regarding the winding up of the UK furlough scheme weighed on both the FTSE100 and FTSE 250 Indexes during lunchtime trading.
At midday the former had slipped by 0.4% to 7031 while the latter had given up 1.6% to 23,233 points. The recent rally in crude oil prices has reignited concerns that inflationary pressures within the UK may be more structural and enduring than the official narrative has suggested.
The consensus view has been that supply bottlenecks and labour shortages will dissipate with time. However there appears to be an increasing degree of skepticism that these issues will be easily resolved in the short term. Higher long term levels of inflation would be an area of palpable concern for the markets, given that interest rate rises may be needed to contain it.
Broker upgrades failed to inspire buying interest in either industrial products distributor Electrocomponents (ECM), or Sports betting and gaming company Flutter Entertainment (FLTR). Both drifted lower despite upgrades to buy from RBC Capital Markets and HSBC respectively.
Oil majors British Petroleum (BP), and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) continued to attract buying interest given the robust oil price. The former was trading 2.1% higher at 338.5p, and the latter was trading 2.8% higher at 1645p.
Echoing comments yesterday from United Utilities (UU.), the firm said it had experienced record demand due to a sustained increase in usage by households and latterly by businesses due to the ‘return to work’. Pennon shares eased 4.5% to £11.25.
Shares in bus and rail operator Go-Ahead Group (GOG) careered 21.9% lower to 800p after the company announced that the Department for Transport had decided not to renew its Southeastern rail franchise when it expires next month due to the mis-calculation of profits, handing it instead to the Operator of Last Resort.
As a result, the firm said it would delay the publication of its full year results and chief financial officer Elodie Brian would resign with immediate effect after 13 years’ service.
Plumbing supplies group Ferguson (FERG), which is now totally focused on the US after the disposal of its UK business in January, posted a 14% increase in revenues to $22.8 billion for the year to July driven by market share gains.
The firm continued to consolidate its presence in the US with another $355 million of acquisitions during the period and will ask shareholders to vote on shifting its primary listing to New York early next year. Shares drifted 0.57% lower to £104.55.
Shares in Smiths Group (SMIN) rallied 4.1% to £14.21 after the industrial technology firm posted a 2% fall in underlying revenues for the year to July but said it saw a return to growth in the final quarter along with an acceleration in margin improvement.
The company also announced it had signed a binding deal to sell its medical division to ICU Medical for an enterprise value of $2.8 billion including $100m related to ICU’s future share price performance.
As well as positive momentum in its soft drinks business the firm reported strong growth in its Funkin cocktail brand due to the reopening of the on-trade. Shares drifted 1.5% lower to 530.7p
Low-cost airline Easyjet (EZJ) revealed its 31 for 47 rights issue at 410p was only 93% subscribed, leaving the underwriters including Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to find buyers for the remaining 21 million shares, or if all else fails take them onto their own books. Shares dropped 3.3% to 686p.
Motor and property finance provider S & U (SUS) posted a trebling of pre-tax profits to £19.9 million for the half-year to July driven by a 35% increase in net new vehicle loans backed by record second-quarter payment collections. Shares fell 2.1% to £27.90
Specialist textiles maker HeiQ (HEIQ) reported a disappointing drop in revenues and gross margins for the first half to June against a strong comparable period last year, and a sharp fall in operating earnings due to a much higher cost base. Shares tanked 22% to 102p.
Shares in building materials distributor Lords Group (LORD:AIM) fell 4.7% to 134p despite the firm posting a sharp jump in underlying revenues to £179 million for the six months to June and pre-tax profits of £4.5 million against a loss of £0.3 million last year.
Online greetings card and gift seller Moonpig (MOON) reported strong trading over the summer with a continued ‘elevated’ level of orders, leading it to raise its full year revenue guidance to £270 million to £285 million, the shares drifted 3% lower to 348p.
Bricks and mortar card retailer Card Factory (CARD) also posted an increase in revenues in the six months to July despite footfall being below pre-pandemic levels as customers increased their spend per visit. Shares traded 4.8% lower at 57p.
Investor interest is expected to be strong following the 25% surge in shares in rival private equity firm Bridgepoint (BPT) on its first day of trading in July.