Friday, 3 February: FTSE indices started the day off brightly, following on from a flat trade in Asia and partly aided by a dollar gaining strength in the tail end of this week against most major currencies. The FTSE 100 closed 0.67% higher as it was lifted in the main by select banking and finance stocks – Barclays, Prudential, Aviva and Legal & General.
Sterling slumped early on in the day, prompted by a January Services PMI data miss. UK January Services PMI data was recorded at 54.8, belying expectations of an increase on December(56.2) and missing the consensus forecast of 55.8 from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. This was the first indicator of the UK services sector slowing in the prior four month period. The data adds to suspicion that the economy will increasingly struggle, with the divorce from the EU looming large this year sure to effect the UK’s flagship sector. Currency traders reacted negatively, which led to a sell-off in sterling against both the euro and US dollar.
Beazley(+6.95%), the FTSE 250 specialist insurer traded higher today as it increased its pretax profit in 2016 following a year of strong growth in premiums written. Pretax profit was clocked at $293.2m for 2016, from $284m the prior year. Beazley noted the rise in profit was driven primarily by higher investment return, with net investment income rising to $93.1m from $57.6m. Beazley said gross premiums written in the year were 6% higher than in 2015, at $2.2bn from $2.08bn.
At the close, euro indices were in the green as the FTSE 100, CAC 40 and Dax 30 closed +0.67%, +0.65% and +0.20% respectively.