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Push to regain lost pandemic ground falters as FTSE falls

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Shares have slowly rebounded since a market crash in February 2021 (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
Shares have slowly rebounded since a market crash in February 2021 (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

London’s top index ended a strong two-day winning streak on Friday but still closed higher than it had a week earlier.

Having pushed to a 21-month high earlier in the day, and got very close to its pre-pandemic level, the FTSE 100 dropped sharply a little while later.

The index was at one point just 1.2 points off its February 21 2020 score of 7,404 but ended up giving back all those gains, ending at 7,348.

It was a drop on the day of 36 points, or 0.5%.

Yet after a strong Thursday, and an even stronger Wednesday, investors had little to be sour about. The index is still around 45 points higher than its close a week ago.

AstraZeneca’s results pushed it to the bottom of the index. It reported to shareholders on Friday that it missed expectations on its quarterly operating profit.

Investors were unimpressed, and did not seem to be pleased by the announcement that the company will look to start profiting from its Covid-19 vaccine.

Shares in the company ended the day down 6.8%.

“AstraZeneca’s numbers dealt the FTSE 100 a blow this morning from which it has struggled to recover, and indeed brief intraday bounces have been met with selling all day,” said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

“After touching a post-pandemic high this week the index could well join its US peers in moving into a consolidation phase, while investors digest earnings reports and await the next round of central bank meetings.

“The sharp gains of October are unlikely to be repeated in the immediate future.”

Across the pond shares were faring better as London packed up for the day. The S&P 500 had risen 0.7%, while the Dow Jones was up 0.5%.

In Europe Frankfurt’s Dax index had gained 0.1% while the Cac 40 in Paris rose 0.5%.

By the end of the day one pound could buy 1.3409 dollars or 1.1719 euros, up 0.1% against each of the two currencies.

Elsewhere in London, Redrow revealed that the cost of buying one of its homes has risen 14% over the last year. Meanwhile the cost of building a home is only expected to grow by 5%, it said.

Shares in the company closed up 1.8% after it revealed that it was able to absorb increases in building costs thanks to the rise in house prices. It comes a day after its larger rival Taylor Wimpey said the same.

The news that hobby company The Works is facing “significant additional costs” because of supply chain disruptions was not enough to disrupt its shares, which rose by 0.1%.

The company said that it was being hit by higher shipping costs, but reassured shareholders that it is sufficiently stocked for Christmas.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Burberry, up 75p to 1,936.5p, Ocado, up 47p to 1,809p, Rightmove, up 15.8p to 725p, BT, up 2.85p to 167.15p, and 3i Group, up 24.5p to 1,453.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were AstraZeneca, down 643p to 8,801p, United Utilities, down 27p to 582p, IAG, down 5p to 164.32p, Whitbread, down 76p to 3,200p, and Evraz, down 14p to 620p.

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