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22 May 2019 | 16:36

Mid cap index dented by weak pound

A 0.3% decline in the pound versus both the euro and the US dollar weighed on the UK domestic-focused FTSE 250 index, down 0.6% to 19,326.

However, weakness in the British currency benefited the FTSE 100 index as it boosted the relative value of the overseas earnings which dominate the blue chip index. The FTSE 100 traded 0.2% higher at 7,342.

UK inflation came in above the Bank of England's target at 2.1% but below the 2.2% consensus forecast. And steelmaker British Steel fell into administration as a rescue package from the Government was not forthcoming.


Marks and Spencer dropped 8.4% to 248.4p after it posted lower underlying profits and confirmed it would issue new shares in the company at a deep discount to help pay for its joint venture with Ocado.

After slumping yesterday, Royal Mail rebounded by 5.4% to 222.8p after publishing its full year results. Annual profits were at the bottom end of its guidance range and it cut the dividend to 15p. The market preferred to focus on a five-year turnaround strategy designed to improve margins.

Power utility SSE reversed 3.1% to £10.12 after it booked a large drop in annual adjusted profit, as earnings fell at both its retail and wholesale divisions. Having declared 97.5p in total dividends for the year to 31 March 2019, SSE said the dividend would be cut to 80p in the new financial year.

Packaging stocks were in demand Smurfit Kappa up 6% and Mondi up 3% after the latter told customers that the prices of recycled containerboard and kraft top liner would be increased by €60 a tonne in June and July on reduced stock levels and rising demand

Bovis Homes shed 3.5%, despite the housebuilder reporting a rise in year-to-date sales rates.

Soft drinks manufacturer Britvic dipped 1% to 929p despite sales of low and no-sugar drinks helping boost its annual profit.

Veterinary services and pet product supplier Pets at Home Group rallied 13.2% to 167.5p, despite booking a 38% fall in annual profit owing to it buying out under-performing joint venture practices. Underlying profit, however, rose by a better-than-expected 6.1%.

Fashion retailer Superdry jumped 11.3% to 515p on news that it had poached Wiggle's finance head Nick Gresham to become its interim chief financial officer.

Babcock International sank 9.1% to 461.1p after the defence contractor booked a slump in pre-tax profit.

Specialist lender Paragon Banking fell 2.3% to 461.8p despite reporting an 8.7% increase in underlying profit on rising income.


Support services firm Hargreaves Services fell 12.6% to 257p as it detailed its exposure to the now insolvent British Steel, which could result in an exceptional charge of up to £9m and hit revenue in its coming financial year by around £11m and pre-tax profit by £1.3m.

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