The UK stockmarket is currently on a downward trend, with the FTSE 100 falling in the wake of several big losses among the major companies included. However, the pound has managed to edge up in value slightly, largely at the expense of the euro which was hit by uncertainties on the continent.
The FTSE closed in the red yesterday, with a fall of 0.4%. This put it down to 7,271.3, a fall of 31 points. A large portion of the blame for this drop is being attributed to ex-dividend firms, which featured prominently among the fallers. Among the recently ex-dividend firms to experience the most significant drops in share value were HSBC, with a fall of 4%, and Easyjet, which fell by 6%.
Another FTSE 100 company to experience a particularly notable drop in share value was Centrica, the firm that owns “big six” energy supplier British Gas. Although Centrica reported an increase in its annual profits of 4% for a total of £1.52 billion, it still managed to lose 3.7% of its value by close of day. This is partly because while the firm’s profits as a whole may have been up, profits for the residential energy supply arm of British Gas fell by a sizeable 11%. Centrica chief executive Iain Conn attributed the fall in profits to a competitive market, increasing costs, and a loss of customers.
A few FTSE 100 companies managed to notably defy the trend. Intu Properties, which specialises in shopping centres, was the biggest gainer. It grew by 6.7% and also delivered the first increase in dividends for its investors in half a decade. Another notable riser was RSA insurance, which grew by 4.8%.
While the UK’s stock market may have been falling the pound managed to slightly increase in value. This is particularly notable at a time when the pound is in a comparatively weak position, still stricken by the significant hit that its value took in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum.
The 0.5% rise in the sterling’s value is largely the result of gains made against the Euro. Despite Germany being named the 2016’s fastest-growing major advanced economy, a number of stability fears still plague the eurozone and these weight heavily on the common currency. The approach of presidential elections in France, in particular, is proving to be a cause of concern. Despite the UK’s own economy being strained, in currency exchange terms at least Europe seems to be slightly harder-hit on the whole, with the result that the pound has risen to provide a rate of 84.51p to the euro.