FTSE’s biggest players take wind out of index’s sails

Without backing from Wall Street on Monday as US traders stayed home, the FTSE 100 managed only a small rise.

The index ended up by 14.6 points, hitting 7,600.06, a rise of less than 0.2%.

It was dragged down by some of its biggest components, meaning the rise was rather thin despite only 21 of the index’s approximately 100 companies being in the red.

Out of the top 10 biggest companies on the FTSE, six were in the bottom third of the index on Monday while none made it into the top third.

Among the heavier fallers was the largest firm on the index, drugs giant AstraZeneca, and cigarette maker British American Tobacco.

“The US drove the bounce last week and with the Americans at leisure today, the FTSE has found it almost impossible to maintain the bullish atmosphere,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG.

“The limited morning gains have shrunk as the day has gone on, as investors struggle to find a reason to drive equities higher from here.

“All eyes will be on the US tomorrow to see if Wall Street can put new energy into the bounce or whether the usual pre-NFP (non-farm payrolls) nervousness will make an early appearance.”

In Europe, sentiment was better than for London’s top companies. The Dax in Frankfurt closed up 0.8% while France’s Cac 40 rose 0.7%.

Traders were home for Memorial Day in the US, so all markets were closed.

Against the dollar, the pound rose 0.09% to 1.2659 and 0.11% against the euro to 1.1744.

“European markets have got the week off to a positive start, helped by a strong Asia session after authorities in Shanghai said businesses could start to reopen on Wednesday June 1, as Omicron cases continued to fall,” said CMC Market analyst Michael Hewson.

“This optimism over an economic reopening in China helped push the Nikkei 225 to a three-week high.”

Monday kicked off what is set to be a quiet week for London’s company news ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

Advertising firm S4 Capital, led by former WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell, was one of the few companies with any results on Monday.

It grew ahead of forecasts over the last three months and expects demand to remain strong.

Revenue and profits have both jumped, the company reported to investors, who rewarded it with a 4.3% bump in shares.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Melrose Industries, up 6.65p to 135.65p, JD Sports, up 4.55p to 124.5p, Ocado, up 33.8p to 935.2p, RS Group, up 34p to 966.5p, and IAG, up 4.56p to 336.6p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Airtel Africa, down 8.1p to 151.8p, BAT, down 94.5p to 3,456p, Imperial Brands, down 27.5p to 1,769.5p, Aviva, down 6.2p to 434.7p, and AstraZeneca, down 112.0p to 10,468p.