Stock markets and commodities are on the back foot on the last trading day of May as the trade war spills over into threats of US tariffs on Mexico. The core European Stoxx 50 benchmark is down 1.2% for a loss of nearly 7% on the month while the FTSE 100 index is down 0.9% at 7,154 for a 4% loss on the month.
With investors moving money out of stocks into bonds, pushing yields to historic lows – in the case of German 10-year bunds, a 700-year low – the only UK sectors which have made gains this month are Beverages, Healthcare, Personal Goods, Pharmaceuticals and Software. Today the only sectors in the green are Electricity, Gas and Water Utilities.
In company news, pensions and life insurance group Legal & General (LGEN) announces it has sold its general insurance business to Germany’s Allianz for a base price of £242m plus further payments over three years. Shares are 0.7% lower in line with the market at 258p.
Also delivering positive news, albeit not reflected in the share price, is infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty (BBY) which has been conditionally selected for a $1.7bn road-building project in Texas. Balfour Beatty has a 45% stake in the joint venture with US company Fluor Corp. Shares ease 0.7% to 232p.
Budget airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) reports strong revenues, passenger numbers and profits for the year to 31 March, but its net profit guidance of €320m to €350m for the current year is below consensus estimates of €360m, sending the shares down 5% to £30.55.
Car dealer Lookers (LOOK) reports a strong first quarter, with turnover of new cars up 3% against a 2% fall in overall UK registrations, while on a like-for-like basis sales and gross profits were flat on last year. Sales of used cars were up 8% in the quarter and margins also improved. Shares rally 0.5% to 86p, out-performing the broader market.
Also out-performing the market is engineering and environmental consultancy Ricardo (RCDO) following the news that it has completed the acquisition of Transport Engineering, expanding its presence in the Australian rail sector. Shares chug 0.3% higher to 773p.
Further down the market shares in ‘Lucky Pants’ online-bingo operator Stride Gaming (STR:AIM) jump 23% to 145p after it reveals that it is in discussions with rival Rank Group (RNK) regarding a possible all-cash offer for the company at 151p per share.