The FTSE 100 was down 49.5 per cent at 6004 at 2.06pm on Monday, led down by the banks. There was little surprise at the slump among financial services groups following the disastrous statement from Bradford & Bingley’s this morning.
The mid cap B&B fell almost a quarter to 67.25p on the profit warning, as it also added that chief executive Steven Crawshaw was to step down over health problems. The top tier casualties were headed by HBOS, the worst blue chip performer at lunch time as it shed 8.8 per cent to 364.75p. Alliance & Leicester wasn’t too far behind spiralling 4.6 per cent to 405.5p.
Tullow Oil climbed after Morgan Stanley released a bullish note on the oil exploration sector. In a note that initiated coverage on Oilexco and tipped the stock as having an almost 50 per cent upside, the broker named Tullow as one of its sector picks. It slapped an “overweight” rating on the stock and a 1230 target price, sending the shares up almost 2 per cent to 907.5p.
In a related sector on the FTSE 250, Imperial Energy topped the risers as it made a new discovery in West Siberia. The shares rose 5.82 per cent to 1037p, with help from UBS, which upped its target price to 1,500p in response to the news.
Back on the top tier, big pharma group Glaxo rose after obstacles to its Promacta drug were removed last week by the FDA in the US prompting some broker support. It rose 0.36 per cent to 1118p.
Man Group was up after support from Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Man announced strong results last week and the broker upped its target price accordingly from 700p to 750p. It called the outlook for the group “very positive” adding it seemed to have avoided the market turmoil that had caused its peers to suffer. The hedge fund rose 1.61 per cent to 631p.
British Airways was among the fallers after the International Air Transport Association cut its forecasts for profits in the sector this year. Airlines across Europe lost ground following the news, with the UK’s flagship carrier down 2.58 per cent to 1587p.
Cigarette company Imperial Tobacco Group fell 2.52 per cent to 1975p on government starting consultation for plans to bring in plain packaging in the UK. Adam Spielman, analyst at Citigroup, said: “This measure would have many profound effects — It is too early to be certain of all the effects, but we think plain packaging would be unpopular with consumers, and thus increase cross-border trade. We fear that if implemented in Britain, it would spread to other countries. On the positive side, we don’t expect massive downtrading on day one, and it may make new competition harder.”
British Land was sold on a note from UBS, which lowered its target price from 1000p to 950p.
B&B was the worst performer on the second line, unsurprisingly. Johnston Press, the publishing group was another faller after it went ex-rights today. The group had launched a deeply discounted rights issue to raise £212m after it suffered from a drop in advertising revenue. It fell 9.34 per cent to 74.5p.