By Barbara Kollmeyer
London stocks struggled for traction on Thursday, weighed by losses for heavily weighted energy stocks and banks, with shares of Primark-owner Associated British Foods dropping after results.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.07% fell 0.2% to 7,574.93, in a week that has seen the index gain 0.4% so far. That’s as U.S. stocks climbed in early trade after another pullback, and Asian equities climbed after interest rate cuts from China . The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.2365% rose 0.3% to $1.3647.
Oil prices /zigman2/quotes/209723049/delayed CL00 -1.01% were backtracking from a run that has seen the commodity reach 2014 highs, which took the shine off shares of Royal Dutch Shell , down more than 2% and BP /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP +2.97% /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP -0.14% , off 2%.
Banks were under pressure across the board with NatWest /zigman2/quotes/203233010/composite NWG +1.96% /zigman2/quotes/209265718/delayed UK:NWG +0.14% down over 2% and Barclays /zigman2/quotes/208409333/delayed UK:BARC +0.57% /zigman2/quotes/206581728/composite BCS +3.59% and HSBC /zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite HSBC +3.93% /zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed UK:HSBA +0.04% dropping over 1% each.
The biggest decliner was Associated British Foods /zigman2/quotes/204493701/delayed UK:ABF -0.48% , down 3.5% after the multinational food processing and retailing company said revenue for the first quarter rose, but Primark sales declined, and left its full-year guidance unchanged . ABF said Primark sales from now to April are anticipated to be significantly better than those of the same period a year ago.
James Grzinic, analyst at Jefferies, remained upbeat, with a buy rating on the company. “Omicron-reduced footfall late in Q1 has impacted Primark sales less than we had feared, hopefully marking the last COVID-related deterioration in sales momentum. Past periods of reduced restrictions have shown Primark’s ability to defend strong consumer attractions and double-digit margins,” said Grzinic.
Deliveroo /zigman2/quotes/225812915/delayed UK:ROO -2.85% shares jumped 3% after the food-delivery service reported its gross transaction value growth in 2021 was at the top end of the guidance range .
Burberry shares /zigman2/quotes/205386705/delayed UK:BRBY -0.32% were up a second day after the luxury retailer reported higher revenue and comparable-store sales in the third quarter of fiscal 2022.