Most observers agree that the best place to look for a sense of where European markets are heading is Germany. So traders and analysts may want to look away now as the ZEW indicator of economic sentiment among the country’s investors plunged to a 20-month low, with the downbeat mood being blamed on the struggles of the eurozone and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
The FTSE 100 has yet to feel the tremors hitting its continental neighbour but they caused the index to fluctuate yesterday, with claim and counter-claim eventually cancelling each other out so that the FTSE 100 closed down just 0.4 points at 6,632.42.
Hargreaves Lansdown was the biggest blue-chip faller, suffering at the hands of UBS analysts who started their coverage of the stock with a sell rating. UBS also added the financial adviser to its “least preferred” list, sending its shares down 31p to 1,050p, as analysts warned that the expected growth was overstated and rising interest rates would be likely to persuade retail clients to reduce the amount they invest.
Elsewhere, the building supplier SIG fell 4.4p to 167.6p despite a reasonable set of first-half results. Revenues were up 6.5 per cent to £1.29bn and pre-tax profits jumped 24 per cent to £41.5m, with directors confident of the recent housing market revival in the UK, although the downturn in the French economy is starting to hold growth back slightly. The broker Liberum suggested a recent restructuring was “risky”.
DRS Data and Research Services fell 2.5p to 16p as it said a “significant loss is probable” due to tough overseas markets for its scanner and printer business.
But there was good news for cloudBuy, an e-commerce business based in Aldermaston, which rose 5.5p to 37p after it won its first big contract with the Australian Government. Providing pay platforms and customer analysis, it could make £500,000 to £4m a year from the deal.
The steel company Severfield, which provided materials for the Shard, said a reorganisation last year has helped boost its UK order book to £171m. But the market was less impressed, with the shares up just 0.38p at 60p.