February 20, 2018 / 9:49 AM / 2 years ago

Disappointing HSBC update, weak miners keep FTSE flat

MILAN (Reuters) - A disappointing update from banking heavyweight HSBC and declines in big mining stocks on metal price weakness weighed on the UK’s top share index on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - Traders look at financial information on computer screens on the IG Index trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The FTSE .FTSE index ended the session flat at 7,246.77 points, lagging a broadly positive European market, while Britain's mid-cap index .FTMC added 0.8 percent, helped by news of a possible bid for software firm Fidessa.

HSBC (HSBA.L) fell 3 percent after Europe’s biggest lender by market value reported a jump in annual pre-tax profit that missed expectations and unveiled a plan to raise up to $7 billion over the next four months to bolster its capital base.

Investec analysts confirmed their “neutral” rating on the stock, saying results were “all-in-all disappointing” and the absence of a share buyback was a negative surprise.

Although results fell short of expectations, ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson said the performance from HSBC was still strong and showed the bank was beyond a recovery phase.

HSBC has undergone a painful restructuring under CEO Stuart Gulliver, who is stepping down on Tuesday after more than seven years at the helm and will be replaced by company veteran John Flint.

HSBC shares have risen about 80 percent from the seven-year lows they hit in April 2016, helped by the restructuring and a supportive market environment.

Mining stocks were another weak spot, tracking declines in copper prices. BHP Billiton BLT.L dropped 4.6 percent as a solid-looking update failed to lift shares that have risen around 8 percent over the last year.

BHP reported a 25 percent rise in underlying half-year profit, helped by robust metals prices, and handed an extra $800 million to shareholders as it forecast rising cash flows in the second half.

Traders said its dividend was stronger than expected but the market was expecting more in terms of profit growth.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG.L) was another big faller on the FTSE, down 2.7 percent. The operator of Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels said it would not pay out any additional capital to investors in 2018 as it announced a better-than-expected profit and a new strategy to speed growth.

Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L) fell for a second day as brokers cut their price targets on the stock, after a disappointing update and a vague outlook on Monday that sent its shares down more than 6 percent to a one-year low.

Top gainers on the FTSE were shares in Evraz (EVRE.L), up 5 percent after the steelmaking and mining company inked a $2 billion supply deal with Russia.

Among mid caps, Fidessa FDSA.L soared 22.5 percent on news that Swiss banking software supplier Temenos (TEMN.S) is in advanced talks to buy the British trading software provider in a cash deal valuing it at about 1.41 billion pounds.

Hikma (HIK.L) rose 8.4 percent after it named former Teva executive Sigurdur Olafsson as its CEO, as the drugmaker looks to improve its struggling generics business.

A “tough” first half sent homewares retailer Dunelm (DNLM.L) down 10.5 percent to lead mid cap losers.

To view a graphic on UK Banks, click: reut.rs/2BD5Em2

Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Kit Rees; editing by John Stonestreet

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