FTSE Today: Bluechip index slips as BP's profit falls short

London’s FTSE 100 index gave back earlier gains towards the London close, finishing the day down by 0.1%, or 5.67 points, at 7,321.72, underperforming its European peers. The FTSE 250 ended on a more positive note, up by 0.4%, or 65.46 points, at 17,083.05, while the AIM All-Share closed up by 0.2%, or 1.28 points, at 679.85.

BP, still recovering from the sudden departure of its CEO in September, announced a $1.5 billion share buyback for the third quarter. However, this move wasn’t sufficient to prevent its shares from sliding by 4.5% as its underlying replacement cost profit fell to $3.29 billion, missing the market consensus of $4.01 billion.

Despite this setback, BP reported an increase in its underlying RC profit compared to the second quarter, citing higher refining margins, increased oil and gas production, and a strong oil trading result, partly offset by a weak gas marketing and trading performance. The company expects an increase in upstream production for the year overall.

The decline in BP’s shares was exacerbated by a drop in oil prices, impacting industry rival Shell, which fell by 1.9%.

Vodafone and Zegona Communications confirmed a €5 billion deal for the sale of Vodafone’s Spanish operations. Zegona will pay at least €4.1 billion in cash and an additional €900 million in redeemable preference shares. Vodafone CEO Margherita Della Valle stated that this move would help them focus on markets with sustainable structures and sufficient local scale. Vodafone shares fell by 1.4%, while Zegona’s shares remained suspended from trading.

Ahead of the Bank of England’s interest rate decision, the UK received positive news regarding pricing pressures. UK shop price inflation eased for the fifth consecutive month, with prices in October being 5.2% higher than the previous year, down from September’s 6.2%. Food inflation also saw a decrease, slowing to 8.8% from 9.9% in September, while fresh food inflation dropped further to 8.3% from 9.6%.

This reduction in inflation provided a boost for retailers, with Kingfisher, Primark owner AB Foods, and B&M European Value Retail all posting gains of 2.6%, 1.9%, and 1.5%, respectively.

Rolls-Royce was the star performer in the FTSE 100, surging by 6.4% following an upgrade from Barclays to “overweight” from neutral. The stock’s recent 10% decline presented a buying opportunity, according to Barclays, ahead of the November Capital Markets Day.

Intercontinental Hotels Group received a downgrade from JPMorgan, causing shares to fall by 2.7%. JPMorgan moved IHG to “underweight” from “neutral” and cut the price target by 14%, indicating a bearish outlook.

In the FTSE 250, Spectris enjoyed a 3.3% increase after announcing expectations of full-year profits at the upper end of projections. The London-based supplier of high-tech instruments reported sales growth for the three-month period ending September 30, growing 5.0% to £349.2 million.

On AIM, Sopheon surged by 83% after revealing a bid approach from Wellspring, which could value the company at £114 million. Talks between Sopheon and Wellspring were “well advanced,” with a potential bid likely to be recommended to shareholders.

Wellspring, controlled by Resurgens Technology, specializes in software for managing technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation activities, primarily catering to academic, government, and corporate markets.