London close: FTSE mixed as Unilever flies after rebuffed Kraft Heinz bid

Andrew Schonberg Sharecast | 17 Feb, 2017 17:49 | | |

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22:12 17/02/17

London stocks closed mixed after a Friday session that saw blue-chip consumer goods giant Unilever fly higher after it slapped away a $143bn offer from Kraft Heinz, which has indicated it will return to the table.

The rebuffed offer -- $50 a share in a mix of cash and shares -- was at an 18% premium to Unilever's closing price on Thursday. The Dove soap owner's shares bubbled up more than 13%, which helped pull UK blue chips higher overall.

"Big ticket M&A has enlivened up an otherwise relatively dull afternoon," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp, referring to the Unilever-Kraft story.

"Backed by Warren Buffett, Kraft is likely to return for another tilt at the prize, with a bid of this size unlikely to have been made without careful consideration."

It was the jewel in an otherwise bland session that saw the FTSE 100 close up 0.19% to 7,291.54, and the FTSE 250 end down 0.16% to 18,675.47.

The FTSE 350 index for personal goods, which included Unilever, rose by more than 11%.

Other 350 indices figuring higher included household goods, food producers, fixed-line telecommunications and pharmaceuticals & biotechnology.

Reckitt Benckiser got a boost from the Unilever story, with Associated British Foods and Imperial Brands also advancing. Shire and Glaxosmithkline also rose, as did property stocks.

However, those for mining, industrial metals and oil & gas producers were notably lower, as were those for food & drug retailers and general retailers.

The latter sectors suffered after official data revealed UK retail sales fell unexpectedly in January, suggesting consumers were reining in spending in the face of rising inflation.

"Mining and oil and gas stocks have been the major losers today as slightly weaker copper and oil prices weigh on both sectors," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Miners were softening after Anglo American and Antofagasta; Shell led the oil majors lower and was followed by BP; lowest of all was Standard Chartered, a week away from its annual results, as it headed a band of retreating banks and other financials.

All of this as European indices the Euro Stoxx 50, DAX and CAC 40 plotted a dreary course south, with political unease a key contributory factor.

"French bond yields continue their recent rise on reports that French socialist candidate Benoit Hamon is considering merging his campaign with far left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon under a single banner," said Hewson.

"The markets are interpreting this as making a (euro-sceptic Marine) Le Pen victory much more likely."

Meantime, on Wall St, key equities ladders were heading south ahead of the long Presidents Day weekend.

"US markets are trading broadly lower ahead of their long weekend, with particular signs of weakness in energy and financial stocks," observed IG's Beauchamp.

He said next week's slightly uninspiring economic calendar offered little hope for a re-invigoration of the equity bounce.

"It will likely be the middle of next week before we can tell whether today’s drop was just a blip or the beginning of something bigger."

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,291.54 0.19%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,675.47 -0.16%
techMARK (TASX) 3,349.58 0.39%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Unilever (ULVR) 3,797.00p 13.43%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,991.00p 4.13%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,786.50p 3.32%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,100.00p 2.88%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,473.00p 1.73%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,836.00p 1.53%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,606.00p 1.48%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,591.00p 1.47%
Pearson (PSON) 669.50p 1.44%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,525.00p 1.40%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Standard Chartered (STAN) 773.00p -4.36%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 666.00p -3.97%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,339.50p -2.19%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,186.50p -1.75%
Glencore (GLEN) 319.45p -1.56%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,593.00p -1.48%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 836.00p -1.47%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,394.50p -1.38%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,094.00p -1.37%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 325.50p -1.36%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Essentra (ESNT) 484.40p 14.92%
SEGRO (SGRO) 498.50p 3.21%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 1,660.00p 2.85%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 320.80p 2.75%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,411.00p 2.64%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 1,954.00p 2.57%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 1,702.00p 2.41%
IP Group (IPO) 171.80p 1.90%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 385.30p 1.80%
Finsbury Growth & Income Trust (FGT) 676.00p 1.65%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Inmarsat (ISAT) 615.00p -5.46%
Drax Group (DRX) 342.10p -4.71%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,947.00p -3.33%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,037.00p -2.90%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 719.00p -2.84%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 222.80p -2.75%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 459.20p -2.28%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,512.00p -2.26%
Rank Group (RNK) 203.60p -2.16%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 559.50p -2.01%

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