London stocks held back by rising pound as economy grows

London stocks lagged behind their European peers on Wednesday after better than expected UK economic growth data boosted the pound.

The FTSE 100 was down 3.66 points, or 0.05%, to 7,421.91.

Meanwhile the German Dax was up 0.47% and the French Cac was 0.25% higher.

Eurozone stocks were positive after the European Central Bank (ECB) issued its latest update. The ECB kept interest rates on hold, meeting expectations.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Given the slowdown in economic activity in the eurozone in 2019, it is clear the government bond buying scheme was wound-down too early, and it now feels like the ECB are in wait-and-see mode.”

Oil prices rose on fears of tighter supply. A barrel of Brent crude oil were 1.14% higher at 71.58 US dollars.

But the FTSE ended the day in the red after the pound rose following figures showing the British economy grew marginally ahead of expectations over the three months to February, helped by businesses stockpiling ahead of Brexit.

Sterling was 0.3% higher against the dollar at 1.310, and up 0.3% versus the euro at 1.162.

Tesco led the FTSE 100 after it announced a bumper full-year profits haul, as the grocery chain continues an impressive turnaround under boss Dave Lewis. Shares were up 8.4p to 242.3p.

Mr Lewis said: “After four years we have met or are about to meet the vast majority of our turnaround goals. I’m very confident that we will complete the journey in 2019/20.”

Shares in Indivior crashed after the drug company said it was facing a fine of up to 3 billion US dollars (£2.3 billion), leading analysts to suggest it could bankrupt the firm. The stock closed 75.9p lower at 30.05p.

Asos saw half-year profits tumble as the online retailer blamed expansion costs and heavy discounting for hitting its performance. Its shares climbed 247p to 3,397p.

Shares in G4S surged by 36.35p to 221p after Canadian security firm Garda World Security confirmed it is considering a takeover of the British firm.

Garda said that it is in the preliminary stages of considering an approach to the board of G4S regarding a possible cash offer for all or part of the company. Based on its market cap, G4S is worth more than £3 billion.

Fashion brand Ted Baker has announced the creation of a joint venture which will operate its shops and online channels in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. Shares were up 18p to 1,488p.

Sales at the UK’s biggest tenpin bowling operator Hollywood Bowl were up 4.4% during the six months to March 31 on a like-for-like basis. Overall the group’s revenue climbed 5.3% during the period. Shares dipped by 4p to 216p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Tesco up 8.4p to 242.3p, Severn Trent up 37p to 1,967p, Mondi up 34p to 1,811p, and Smurfit Kappa Group up 43p to 2,318p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Reckitt Benckiser Group down 416p to 5,992p, NMC Health down 63p to 2,408p, Whitbread down 106p to 4,894p and Standard Life Aberdeen down 4.7p to 275.9p.