Traders limp through another dull day with FTSE moving slowly

Traders limped through another dull day of trading with the leading index in London staying flat with little economic data to roar deals along.

As a result of the slow day, the FTSE 100 closed down 7.26 points, or 0.1%, at 7019.67.

AJ Bell director Russ Mould said: “The FTSE 100 seems to be on a road to nowhere at the moment. Fears about inflation have subsided for the time being and even some volatility in Asian markets wasn’t enough to wake the index from its slumber.”

Some had hoped news from the US could improve spirits with an update to first quarter GDP growth but instead officials stuck by the 6.4% growth announced previously, suggesting inflation pressures are slightly overplayed.

Germany’s Dax closed down 0.28% and the French Cac rose 0.69%.

A pound was worth 1.417 dollars and 1.163 euros as markets closed, down 0.1% and 0.02% respectively.

In company news, HSBC said it is quitting retail banking in the US as the London-based bank continues its strategy to focus further on growth in Asia. The announcement came ahead of the bank’s annual general meeting taking place on Friday.

Shares closed up 3.35p at 450.2p.

Pets at Home continued its strong growth throughout the pandemic with revenues jumping 7.9% to £1.14 billion for the year to March 25.

It was the first time the business saw sales top £1 billion as the retailer benefited from a surge in new pet ownership during the past year. Shares have soared throughout the year but only managed to close the day up 0.2p at 463.6p.

The owner of the Daily Mail revealed half-year profits nearly halved as the pandemic hammered sales at its events arm and Metro newspaper title.

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) saw statutory pre-tax profits from continuing operations plunge to £42 million in the six months to March 31, down from £77 million a year ago.

But investors had expected a harder fall and shares closed up 27p, or 3.2%, to 866p.

PayPoint has set aside £12.5 million to cover the potential fallout of an Ofgem investigation into how it allegedly used its strong position in the market to exclude competitors.

The business said it had made the provision as a “current best estimate” as it awaits a final decision from the energy regulator. Shareholders seemed unconcerned, with shares down just 1p at 588p.

But shareholders in train and bus operator FirstGroup showed their disappointment at the sale of its US school bus and transit divisions for £3.3 billion, with 38.7% rejecting the deal. It still goes through, as only 50% needed to approve it. Shares closed up 0.5p at 86p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Antofagasta up 74p at 1,579p; Glencore up 14.25p at 321.75p; Ashtead up 222p at 5,250p; Fresnillo up 34.6p at 913p and Rolls-Royce up 4.02p at 107.06p.

The biggest fallers were Johnson Matthey down 112p at 3,038p; Imperial Brands down 56p at 1,618p; Taylor Wimpey down 5.65p at 167p; Intertek down 168p at 5,482p and Severn Trent down 72p at 3,454p.