The FTSE continues to sag

Vodafone shares dipped below 70p in early trading, adding to the ongoing pressure faced by the company, while the FTSE 100 struggled to gain momentum.

The valuation of Vodafone, the former largest stock in London, has experienced intensified decline this year despite CEO Margherita Della Valle’s commitment to accelerating the company’s transformation. Della Valle’s strategy includes a merger with CK Hutchison-owned Three, but concerns over regulatory investigations potentially delaying the UK plan have left investors apprehensive.

With shares falling by approximately a fifth this year, reaching their lowest point in three decades, Vodafone’s stock hit 69.7p before slightly recovering to 70.1p.

BT shares have also struggled in recent weeks, today seeing a decline of 0.7p to 121.3p during a subdued session for blue-chip stocks.

The FTSE 100 index struggled as the pound’s 15-month high impacted the value of overseas earnings, resulting in a 2.32-point decline to 7271.47. In contrast, the domestically focused FTSE 250 index rose by 0.6%, gaining 109.77 points to reach 18,137.73.

Among the top performers in the FTSE 250, British Land stood out. As the owner of Broadgate and Paddington Central campuses, the company showcased “strong operational momentum” despite economic headwinds. British Land’s former blue-chip stock witnessed a 2% increase, rising 5.8p to 309p. The company reported 552,000 square feet of leasing activity in the first quarter, with an additional 1.2 million square feet under negotiation.

Positive news from the AGM trading statement helped alleviate pessimism following the recent downgrade of 11 commercial property stocks by HSBC analysts. Although British Land shares have experienced a 20% decline this year, UBS set a target price of 450p, highlighting the company’s favourable refinancing timeline until early 2026.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) continued to demonstrate promising performance in the FTSE 250. The retailer’s shares have risen by over 50% this year, further increasing by 1.3p to 194.1p. Peel Hunt analysts endorsed M&S, predicting potential further upside to 220p. The analysts expressed confidence in the ongoing positive developments at M&S, emphasizing achievable margin targets and notable progress in style and value perceptions.