FTSE Open: Stocks retreat on mixed economic signals

A positive run-up to the year-end holidays for London stocks stumbled early Thursday after a mixed session on Wall Street. The FTSE 100 index opened down 0.1%, at 7,709.14. The FTSE 250 was down 0.4%, at 19,541.90, and the AIM All-Share was down 0.2%, at 750.13.

Downbeat results from delivery company FedEx impacted investor sentiment alongside upbeat US consumer confidence data. FedEx’s results are often regarded as a bellwether for economic health.

In London trade, insurer Admiral fell 1.3% after Berenberg cut the stock to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’, pointing to accounting risks. British American Tobacco and United Utilities also retreated as their shares went ex-dividend.

On the upside, Vodafone rose 1.6% on a potential bid from Swisscom for its Italian business, which could counter interest from France’s Iliad. Meanwhile, GlobalData jumped 18% as private equity firm Inflexion bought a stake in its Healthcare division.

In the FTSE 250, Hipgnosis Songs Fund lost 1.8% after releasing delayed financial results and warning of valuation uncertainty following recent controversies.

On the AIM, GlobalData jumped 18%. The data analytics and consulting firm said private equity company Inflexion has bought a 40% stake in its Healthcare division at a valuation of £1.12 billion. It expects to receive net cash of £434 million, which ‘will provide flexibility for accelerated value-creating M&A across the group’.