FTSE Close: London stocks tumble on disappointing earnings

London’s stock market closed lower on Wednesday, weighed down by a combination of factors, including disappointing earnings reports from key companies and broader economic concerns.

The FTSE 100 index ended the day down 58.04 points, or 0.8%, at 7,624.98. The FTSE 250 and AIM All-Share also suffered losses, closing down 0.8% and 1.0% respectively.

St James’s Place was the biggest loser on the FTSE 100, with its share price tumbling 22%. The wealth manager reported an annual loss and slashed its dividend due to a provision for potential client refunds linked to historical servicing issues.

Reckitt Benckiser also saw its share price drop by 12%. The company’s fourth-quarter sales figures missed analyst expectations, while full-year revenue and profit declined compared to the previous year.

Adding to the market’s woes, housebuilder Taylor Wimpey fell 4.8% after disappointing investors with its guidance on new home completions for 2024. The company expects to build fewer houses this year compared to 2023, further pressuring the already under-fire housebuilding sector impacted by the UK Competition & Markets Authority’s investigation.

Halfords, the retailer specialising in cycling and motoring products, plummeted 26% after revising its annual profit forecast downward. The company cited weakening market conditions across three of its four core markets, leading to a decline in like-for-like revenue growth.

Daily Recap

Despite the overall downward trend, Direct Line Insurance saw its share price surge over 20% after receiving a takeover offer from Belgian insurer Ageas. However, Direct Line rejected the offer, labelling it as “unattractive” and “uncertain.”

The broader market sentiment was also impacted by negative news from China’s real estate sector. News that a petition had been filed in a Hong Kong court to wind up debt-ridden developer Country Garden Holdings, following a similar move against Evergrande, contributed to the bearish atmosphere.

Overall, Wednesday’s trading session on the London Stock Exchange reflected a confluence of negative factors, with disappointing company reports and global economic concerns dampening investor sentiment.

Daily Risers and Fallers

FTSE All-Share risers: Direct Line 23.78%, Gulf Marine Services 4.17%, Aston Martin Lagonda 3.97%, Capita 3.5%, Rolls-Royce 3.32%, Pharos Energy 3.08%, Cab Payments 2.81%, Harworth Gp 2.77%, Porvair 2.56%, HICL Infrastructure 2.47%.

FTSE All-Share fallers: Halfords -26.67%, St James’s Place -18.55%, Reckitt -13.29%, Digital 9 -10.92%, Luceco -9.65%, Future -7.64%, Regional Reit -6.87%, Watches Switz -6.45%, Smith & Nephew -5.88%, Wag Payment -5.33%.