By Kit Rees
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s top share index fell on Monday as heavyweight Reckitt Benckiser <RB.L> dropped following its results while energy firms and airlines were also weaker, with just a handful of defensive stocks in positive territory.
Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 <.FTSE> index was down 0.8 percent at 7,396.04 points percent by 0847 GMT. Energy stocks posed the biggest weights as BP <BP.L> and Royal Dutch Shell <RDSa.L> fell 1.7 percent and 1.3 percent respectively, and the price of oil declined as well. [O/R]
“We’re seeing a softer open in UK equities this morning. However, as long as 7,400 holds we think this is a springboard for another push higher,” said John Moore, trader at Berkeley Capital.
“(UK equities) are cheap at the moment, the market’s performed well, the currency rates have an advantage on UK (FTSE) 100 companies.”
Aside from oil companies, consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser <RB.L> also weighed after falling 0.8 percent following weak results.
Reckitt Benckiser’s second-quarter sales fell 2 percent after last month’s cyber attack, which disrupted its operations.
“We consider the quality of these results disappointing for a company like RB, and expect the stock to underperform today particularly given management’s commentary around 2017 outlook,” analysts at UBS said in a note.
Airlines also saw sizeable losses, with budget carrier easyJet <EZJ.L> down 2.4 percent and British Airway’s operator IAG <ICAG.L> falling 2.2 percent after Irish peer Ryanair <RYA.I> warned rivals that it may cut its late summer fares by as much as 9 percent compared to last year.
Blue chip risers were dominated by more defensive stocks, with British American Tobacco <BATS.L> and pharma firm Shire <SHP.L> making modest gains.
Outside of the blue chips, M&A was in focus on the mid-cap <.FTMC> index after B&M European Value Retail <BMEB.L> jumped 4.4 percent on the back of a media report that Wal-Mart’s <WMT.N> Asda is considering a 4.4 billion pound ($5.7 billion) bid to take over the discount retailer.
The British mid cap <.FTMC> index fell 0.7 percent, led lower by a 9 percent slump in Acacia Mining’s <ACAA.L> shares following a spate of broker cuts in light of the gold miner’s continuing troubles stemming from Tanzania’s export ban.
(Reporting by Kit Rees; editing by Mark Heinrich)
By Kit Rees