Unilever and NatWest help break FTSE’s winning streak

The FTSE 100 recovery was hampered on Thursday as some of its biggest companies weighed on the index.

Unilever was the biggest loser of the day after it announced that its margins would be hurt by higher costs.

It led the FTSE 100 down nearly 30 points to 6,968.3.

It left the index down 0.4% in stark contrast to its European peers.

Germany’s Dax closed up 0.6%, while the Cac in France rose 0.3%.

“We’ve seen another broadly positive day of gains for markets in Europe today, although the FTSE 100 has once again underperformed, held back by underperformance in 3-4 of its big cap stocks,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

“Meanwhile, over in Frankfurt the European Central Bank added flesh to the bones of its new guidance model, even as concerns rise over the wider European recovery story.”

The drop in the share price of Unilever and NatWest counteracted the gains made by Flutter Entertainment and Entain.

Both rose to near the top of the FTSE 100 after analysts at RBC upgraded Flutter.

The index reached three-month lows earlier this week, but edged back towards the 7,000 point mark again on Wednesday.

Thursday’s loss will be seen as a setback for traders who were buoyant earlier in the week.

In company news, the body that oversees the Government’s stake in NatWest said it plans to sell off another tranche in the company. Shares in the bank fell 2.7%  after UK Government Investments said that it would reduce its 54.7% stake in the bank by 15%.

Shares in Centrica dropped 2.8%. Its subsidiary, British Gas, was abandoned by 114,000 customers this year, yet the company still reported a large increase in profits due to cold weather.

In a post-trading hours announcement, Hotel Chocolat confirmed plans to raise £40 million from investors through new shares to boost its sales capacity and help it capitalise on growth opportunities.

Shares had nudged a little lower to 360p in the session after it said it was “continuing to assess funding options” hours earlier, following initial reports that a raise was on the cards.

Shares in FirstGroup in rose by 3.1% after the company said that it would return more money than previously announced to shareholders following the sale of two US divisions.

Daily Mail and General Trust reported an increase in revenue by 25% to £278 million in the most recent quarter. Shares dropped by 0.6%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Flutter Entertainment, up 555p to 12,985p, 3i, up 51p to 1,263p, Just Eat Takeaway.com, up 212p to 5,948p, Ocado, up 63p to 1,849.5p, and Entain, up 59p to 1,851p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Unilever, down 252.5p to 4,050.5p, United Utilities, down 130p to 2,881p, NatWest, down 5.35p to 194.2p, Reckitt, down 151p to 6,211p, and Rio Tinto, down 125p to 5846p.