FTSE 100 down as Royal Mail falls

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FTSE 100 Index

Last Updated at 17 Oct 2017, 15:21 GMT *Chart shows local time FTSE 100 intraday chart
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(Close): Disappointing company news and worries over weak commodity prices combined to pull the market lower.

Shares in Royal Mail closed 8.4% lower after it warned that rivals were eating into its parcel delivery business.

Underlying pre-tax profits dropped to £218m for the six months to 28 September, from £233m in the same period last year.

Royal Mail was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, with the index itself closing 12.53 points lower at 6696.60.

Mining shares fell on worries that iron ore prices will fall further next year. Rio Tinto fell 2.1% and BHP Billiton dropped 2.1%.

Shares in product testing firm Intertek fell 7.8% after it said lower prices were affecting its commodities division and oil-related services.

Shares in pub groups fell sharply after MPs voted to give pub tenants more freedom from the big pub companies. Enterprise Inns dived 16.7% and Punch Taverns dropped 16.8%.

Enterprise Inns said the reform "threatens to have serious unintended consequences for publicans and the industry at large".

On the currency markets, sterling rose 0.3% against the dollar to $1.56800 and was also 0.2% higher against the euro at €1.2492.

The pound was boosted by the latest MPC minutes from the Bank of England, which showed policymakers voted 7-2 to hold rates this month with a "material spread of views" over the prospects for inflation.

Analysts said the tone of the minutes suggested that the next rate rise might come earlier than markets had expected.