January 24, 2019 / 9:14 AM / a month ago

Vodafone, oil stocks drag FTSE 100 lower for 3rd session

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* FTSE 100 down 0.3 pct; FTSE 250 up 0.1 pct

* Rentokil falls, Ashtead rises after U.S. peers’ results

* Reckitt slips after downgrade

* Fevertree jumps after upbeat update

Jan 24 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 was lower in early trade on Thursday, underperforming its European peers, as weaker crude prices dragged oil majors lower and telecom Vodafone and pest control company Rentokil were hurt by weak sector earnings.

On track for its third straight session of losses, the FTSE 100 was 0.3 percent lower while the FTSE 250 was up 0.1 percent at 0908 GMT.

At the bottom of the main index, telecom operator Vodafone lost 3.5 percent at its lowest since November after its South African unit reported a slowdown in service revenue growth. It was the biggest drag on the blue chips.

Heavyweight oil stocks were down 0.4 percent due to lower crude prices on lingering concerns about slowing global economic growth.

Rentokil was also among big fallers, sliding 3 percent after U.S. peer Rollins’ results missed Wall Street expectations.

Consumer goods maker Reckitt Benckiser fell 2.5 percent to a more than six-month low as Jefferies downgraded the stock in the wake of the departure of its longstanding CEO.

“The surprise retirement of CEO Rakesh Kapoor crystallises long-brewing anxieties around RB’s predicament. There are strong runners and riders for the role aplenty. But this is a challenge beyond mere fresh legs,” Jefferies analyst said.

But equipment rental company Ashtead added nearly 2 percent and outperformed the index after NYSE-listed rival United Rentals reported a jump in rental revenue.

Results also drove midcap shares. Frankie & Benny’s owner Restaurant Group was the top faller, down as much as 3 percent after predicting lower full-year like-for-like sales.

Among other moves, Just Eat added 2.6 percent after a JP Morgan upgrade while homebuilder Crest Nicholson shed 3.1 percent, with a trader citing a rating downgrade.

Trading platform CMC Markets rose 2.6 percent after it said the Sino-U.S. trade tensions boosted client activity on its online trade platform in the third quarter.

AIM-listed tonic water maker Fevertree jumped 10 percent on track for its best day in more than 14 months after guiding to almost 40 percent surge in full-year revenue. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M in Bengaluru; editing by Josephine Mason)

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