The UK equity markets ended Thursday’s trading session in negative territory despite a series of positive trading updates from Barclays (BARC), Unilever (ULVR), and Relx (RELX). American equity markets provided little encouragement despite initial jobless claims dipping to a new pandemic low.

According to official data just 290,000 individuals filed claims for unemployment insurance. This marks the second week that claims have remained below the 300,00 level. The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.45% at 7,190.30, whilst the FTSE 250 Index finished the day 0.2% weaker at 22,917.05

Economic worries kept investor sentiment firmly, while weakness in industrial commodities dragged down UK mining shares. BHP (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) fell by 3.9% to 1923.4p and 2.8% respectively to 4885.5p.

COMPANY NEWS

Anglo American (AAL) lost 2.6% at £27.62 despite reporting a 2% rise in third-quarter overall production. Miners appear to be getting hit by fresh worries about the heavily indebted Chinese property developer Evergrande after it said it abandoned a $2.6 billion sale of a stake in a subsidiary and that it had made no progress on other sales.

Barclays (BARC) might have hoped for a better market response to its best ever set of third-quarter results, which revealed £2 billion of profit as its investment banking arm boomed.

Yet the bank’s shares slipped 0.7% lower to 196.9p, with analysts noting that expectations were already high among investors and suggested the share’s move lower was ‘profit taking’.

Metrology equipment maker Renishaw (RSW) topped the FTSE 250 leader board, surging 11% to £51.55 after reporting a near 146% rise in profit.

Spectris (SXS) gained 1% to £37.68 after reporting a rise in sales in the third quarter of the year, though maintained its expectations for the full year.

Relx (RELX) rose 1.5% to £22.50, a new all-time high after the analytics services company upgraded its outlook on annual performance after reporting underlying revenue growth in the first nine months of the year.

Babcock (BAB) was down 1.4% to 128.3p as the defence company said it had completed the sale of Frazer-Nash to KBR for £293 million in cash.

Pest control company Rentokil (RTO) slipped 2% to 591p after reporting a slight rise in revenue in the third quarter, as weakness in its disinfection services weighed on growth.

Transport company FirstGroup (FGP)  gained 0.7% to 90.6p after confirming the sale of Greyhound Lines to its subsidiary FlixMobility in a deal worth $172 million, completing its stated strategy to focus on its leading UK public transport businesses.

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Issue Date: 21 Oct 2021