Defensive stocks drag FTSE lower

The FTSE 100 was dragged into the red by weakness in defensive stocks such as utilities and consumer staples businesses.

National Grid (NG.) retreated 0.9% to 908p.

The property sector was in focus again as estate agents responded to the Government’s decision to clampdown on lettings fees.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was up 0.2% to $48 and Brent crude oil nudged higher to $49 per barrel, respectively.

Gold slumped 1.9% to $1,189 per ounce, while copper rallied 1.9% to $5,864 per tonne.


Shares in miner Rio Tinto (RIO) were flat despite outlining plans to generate $5bn of additional free cash flow over the next five years through a new productivity drive.


A mild profit warning sent estate agent Countrywide (CWD) down 11.8% to 171p. It said it expects transaction volumes to be down both this year and in 2017.

A more aggressive expansion plan fattened Domino’s Pizza (DOM) 3.7% to 342p. The pizza franchise reported it will increase its long term target for UK stores to 1,600 sites and said it expects to have 950 operational branches by the end of the year.

Investors felt they were barking up the wrong tree at Pets at Home (PETS) due to softer trading, as the stock retreated 7.2% to 216.6p. The pet retailer said its profit outlook for the full year 2017 was in line with expectations.

Dublin-based UDG Healthcare (UDG) posted softer than expected revenue, causing the stock to trade 4.8% lower at 626.5p.


Weatherly International (WTI) jumped 15.4% after Tschudi nameplate production rates of 1,417 tonnes per month were re-attained during October, which was two months earlier than forecast.

Belvoir Lettings (BLV) declined 5% to 114p as it reported the proposed changes on industry fees will hit its gross profit by no more than 8%.

Purplebricks (PURP) was a rare riser in the sector after reassuring the market the new tenant fee structure at the Autumn Statement will not have any meaningful impact on its business.

Investors were disappointed with retailer Mothercare’s (MTC) half year results, which revealed profit after tax fell from £7m to £5.9m in the 28 weeks to 8 October. The firm blamed unseasonable weather for stalled sales and margin growth.

Insurance holding company Chesnara (CSN) said it will buy a Dutch subsidiary of Legal & General (LGEN) for €160m (£135.6m) to expand its life and pensions business.

The biding war continued to be fought for utilities firm Dee Valley (DVW). Its shares rose another 5% to £18.15 after Severn Trent increased its offer following competition from Ancala.

Vet operator CVS (CVSG) received a shot in the arm as underlying profitability for the four months to 31 October was ahead of the board’s expectations.

The collapse of a financing deal hit aspiring lithium producer Bacanora (BCN) by 7.7% to 74.3p. Its major shareholder Rare Earth Minerals (REM) also fell on the news by 5.7%.

HSS Hire (HSS) reversed 6% to 89p after it reported that fourth quarter trading will be at the lower end of management expectations due to an extension of a restructuring project into 2017.

Real estate group Helical (HLCL) rose 10.9% to 291.4p on decent half year results and pre-let a third of space available in the second phase of a development in Old Street, London.

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