Market Report: Most traders took a bit of risk off the table or sat on the sidelines
Thursday 24 April 2014
The power-station owner Drax faced troubled on two fronts yesterday when the Government shifted the goalposts on environmental support and shareholders rebelled over executive pay.
Drax, which owns the Selby plant in North Yorkshire, vowed to take legal action against Whitehall after the Government scaled back the level of support it promised for the refitting of a power station.
Drax is turning its coal-burning facilities into environmentally friendly biomass plants and had been promised government support on two projects, but yesterday support on one of these was reduced.
To add to Drax's headache, 17.33 per cent of investors failed to back executive pay at the company's annual meeting yesterday. Dorothy Thompson, chief executive, took home a total of £3.3m last year, up from £1.4m in 2012. Drax, which also went ex-dividend, fell 99p to 657.5p.
AstraZeneca continued to climb, up 82.5p to 4,042.5p, on the hopes that a blockbuster takeover deal could still be in the works, while Associated British Foods put on a healthy 240p to 2,962p, after announcing plans to take its Primark chain to the US.
The building materials group Wolseley rose 56p to 3,417p after Credit Suisse raised the possibility of cash returns to shareholders. The bank is predicting a £325m special dividend this year, "growing every year thereafter for at least the next four years".
But poor economic data and a host of top-flight companies trading ex-dividend – including Rolls-Royce, British Gas-owner Centrica, Legal & General and Old Mutual – pegged the blue-chip index back.
Josh Raymond, chief market strategist at City Index, said: "Chinese manufacturing data and weaker US new-home sales set the tone, with most traders taking a bit of risk off the table or sitting on the sidelines."
The FTSE 100 closed down 7.02 points at 6,674.74.
After US-based Gotham City Research's aggressive note shaved almost 40 per cent off the insurance outsourcer Quindell's value, its shares bounced back slightly yesterday. The Aim-listed company added 3p to 26.75p.
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