May 16, 2017 / 9:19 AM / 2 months ago

Vodafone powers Britain's FTSE to new record high

3 Min Read

(ADVISORY- Follow European and UK stock markets in real time on the Reuters Live Markets blog on Eikon, see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets)

* FTSE 100 up 0.3 pct, scales fresh record

* Vodafone jumps 4 pct on cash flow guidance

* EasyJet nosedives on wider first-half loss

* Hargreaves Lansdown falls on Vanguard ETF worries

* Small-caps hit new record high

By Helen Reid

LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - Britain's main share index scaled yet another record high on Tuesday, on course for its ninth straight day of gains, as Vodafone shares jumped after it forecast earnings growth ahead.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent by 0900 GMT, with telecoms stocks and consumer staples providing the impetus, while energy stocks supported gains as the price of crude rose.

Vodafone jumped 4.1 percent, the top FTSE gainer as its forecast for stronger free cash flow and earnings growth eased the blow of a 6.1 billion euro loss for the year to the end of March.

Its Indian unit spin-off dragged it to a loss, but the telecoms company saw free cash flow of 5 billion euros for 2017/18, up from the 4.1 billion last year and ahead of the market estimate of 4.66 billion.

Budget carrier EasyJet dropped 6.6 percent after its first-half loss widened from the previous year, hit by the later Easter holiday and higher costs, though it said it saw pricing pressures easing.

"The first half was always going to be challenging, given Easter timing and FX headwinds, and it has been a touch worse than expected," said Liberum analysts, adding that forward bookings however appeared encouraging.

A lower-than-expected forecast for growth in interventional medicine sent shares in drugmaker BTG spiralling down 6.8 percent, the top mid-cap fallers, despite reporting full-year sales slightly ahead of forecasts.

BTG's losses dragged on Europe-wide healthcare stocks which were the worst performing.

British blue chips were little changed after April inflation jumped more than expected to hit its highest level since September 2013, according to data on consumer prices underlining a growing squeeze on households.

Fund platform Hargreaves Lansdown fell 4 percent, with traders citing exchange-traded fund provider Vanguard's plans to sell directly to investors in Europe for the first time.

The Guardian reported Vanguard was set to offer index-tracking funds for a fee less than half of Hargreaves'.

Challenger bank CYBG fell 4 percent after its earnings undershot the market's expectations.

Small-caps eked out a fresh record high. The index is up 9.6 percent so far this year, outperforming the FTSE 100 which is up 4.8 percent. (Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Keith Weir)

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